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97 Stories by R.A. Lafferty 


He began by breaking things that morning. He broke the glass of 
water on his night stand. He knocked it crazily against the opposite wall 
and shattered it. Yet it shattered slowly. This would have surprised him if 
he had been fully awake, for he had only reached out weakly for it. 

Nor had he wakened regularly to his alarm; he had wakened to a 
weird, slow, low booming, yet the clock said six, time for the alarm. And 
the low boom, when it came again, seemed to come from the clock. He 
reached out and touched it gently, but it floated off the stand at his touch 
and bounced around slowly on the floor. And when he picked it up again 
it had stopped, nor would shaking start it. 

He checked the electric clock in the kitchen. This also said six o’clock, 
but the sweep hand did not move. In his living room the radio clock said 
six, but the second hand seemed stationary. “But the lights in both rooms 
work,” said Vincent “How are the clocks both stopped? Are the 
receptacles on a separate circuit?” He went back to his bedroom and got 
his wristwatch. It also said six; and its sweep hand did not sweep. “Now 
this could get silly. What is it that would stop both mechanical and 
electrical clocks?” 

He went to the window and looked out at the advertising clock on the 
Mutual Insurance Building. It said six o’clock, and the second hand did 
not move. 

“Well, it is possible that the confusion is not limited to myself. I heard 
once the fanciful theory that a cold shower will clear the mind. For me it 
never has, but I will try it. I can always use cleanliness for an excuse.” 

The shower didn’t work. Yes, it did: the water came now, but not like 
water; like very slow syrup that hung in the air. He reached up to touch it 
hanging down there and stretching. And it shattered like glass when he 
touched it, and drifted in fantastic slow globs across the room. But it had 
the feel of water. It was wet and pleasantly cool. And in a quarter of a 
minute or so it was down over his shoulders and back, and he luxuriated 
in it. He let it soak on his noggin, and it cleared his wits at once. 

“There is not a thing wrong with me. I am fine. It is not my fault that 
the water is slow this morning and other things are awry.” 

He reached for the towel and it tore to pieces in his hands like porous 
wet paper. 

He now became very careful in the way he handled things. Slowly, 
tenderly and deftly he took them so that they would not break. He shaved 
himself without mishap in spite of the slow water in the lavatory also. 

Then he dressed himself with the greatest caution and cunning, 
breaking nothing except his shoe laces, and that is likely to happen at any 

“If there is nothing the matter with me, then I will check and see if 
there is anything seriously wrong with the world. The dawn was fairly 
along when I looked out, as it should have been. Approximately twenty 
minutes have passed; it is a clear morning: the sun should now have hit 
the top several stories of the Insurance Building.” 

But it had not. It was still a clear morning, but the dawn had not 
brightened at all in the twenty minutes. And that big clock still said six. It 
had not changed. 

Yet it had changed, and he knew it with a queer feeling. He pictured it 
as it had been before. But the sweep second hand had moved. It had 
swept a third of the dial. 

So he pulled up a chair at the window and watched it. He realized that, 
though he could not see it move, yet it did make progress. He watched it 
for perhaps five minutes. It moved through a space of perhaps five 

“Well, that is not my problem. It is that of the clock maker, either a 
terrestrial or a celestial one.” 

But he left his rooms without a good breakfast, and he left them very 
early. How did he know that it was early since there was something wrong 
with the time? Well, it was early at least according to the sun and 
according to the clocks, neither of which institutions seemed to be 
working properly. 

He left without a good breakfast because the coffee would not make 
and the bacon would not fry. And in plain point of fact the fire would not 
heat. The gas flame sprung up from the pilot like a slowly spreading 
stream or an unfolding flower. Then it burned far too steadily. The skillet 
remained cold when placed over it; nor would water even heat. It had 
taken at least five minutes to get the water out of the faucet in the first 

He ate a few pieces of leftover bread and some scraps of meat. 

In the street there was no motion, no real motion. A truck, first 

seeming at rest, moved very slowly. There was no gear in which it could 
move so slowly. And there was a taxi which crept along, but Charles 
Vincent had to look at it carefully for some time to be sure that it was in 
motion. Then he received a shock. He realized by the early morning light 
that the driver of it was dead. Dead with his eyes wide open! 

Slow as it was going, and by whatever means it was moving, it should 
really be stopped. Vincent walked over to it, opened the door, and pulled 
on the brake, Then he looked into the eyes of that dead man. Was he 
really dead? It was hard to be sure. He felt warm. But, even as Vincent 
looked, the eyes of the dead man had begun to close. And close they did 
and open again in a matter of about twenty seconds. 

This was weird. The slowly closing and opening eyes sent a chill 
through Vincent. And the dead man had begun to lean forward in his 
seat. Vincent put a hand in the middle of the man’s chest to hold him 
upright, but he found the forward pressure to be as relentless as it was 
slow. He was unable to keep the dead man up. 

So he let him go, watching curiously; and in a few seconds the driver’s 
face was against the wheel. But it was almost as if it had no intention of 
stopping there. It pressed into the wheel with dogged force. The man 
would surely break his face. Vincent took several holds on the dead man 
and counteracted the pressure somewhat. Yet the face was being 
damaged, and if things were normal blood would have flowed. 

The man had been dead so long however, that though he was still 
warm his blood must have congealed, for it was fully two minutes before 
it began to ooze. 

“Whatever I have done, I have done enough damage,” said Vincent. 
“And, in whatever nightmare I am in, I am likely to do further harm if I 
meddle more. I had better leave it alone.” 

He walked on down the street. Yet whatever vehicles he saw now were 
moving with an incredible slowness as though driven by some fantastic 
gear reduction. And there were people here and there frozen solid. It was 
a chilly morning, but it was not that cold. They were immobile in 
positions of motion, as though they were playing the children’s game of 

“How is it,” said Charles Vincent, “that this young girl, who I believe 
works across the street from us, should have died standing up and in full 
stride? But, no. She is not dead. Or if so she died with a very alert 

expression. And, oh my God, she’s doing it too!” 

For he realized that the eyes of the girl were closing, and in a space of 
a few seconds they had completed their cycle and were open again. Also, 
and this was even stranger, she had moved, moved forward in full stride. 
He would have timed her if he could. How could he time her when all the 
clocks in the world were crazy? Yet she must have been taking about two 
steps a minute. 

Vincent went into the cafeteria. The early morning crowd that he had 
often watched through the window was there. The girl who made 
flapjacks in the window had just flipped one and it hung in the air. Then 
it floated over as though caught by a slight breeze, and sank slowly down 
as if settling in water. 

The early morning breakfasters, like the people in the street, were all 
dead in this new way, moving with almost imperceptible motion. And all 
had apparently died in the act of drinking coffee, eating eggs, or 
munching toast. And if there was only time enough, there was an even 
chance that they would get the drinking, eating, and munching done with, 
for there was a shadow of movement in them all. 

The cashier had the register drawer open and money in her hand, and 
the hand of the customer was out-stretched for it. In time, somewhere in 
the new leisurely time, the hands would come together and the change be 
given. And so it happened. It may have been a minute and a half, or two 
minutes, or two and a half. It is always hard to judge time, and now it had 
become all but impossible. 

“I am still hungry,” said Charles Vincent, “but it would be foolhardy to 
wait on the service here. Should I help myself? They would not mind if 
they are dead. And, if they are not dead, in any case it seems that I am 
invisible to them.” 

He wolfed several rolls. He opened a bottle of milk and held it upside- 
down over his glass while he ate another roll. Liquids had all become so 
perversely slow. 

But he felt better for his erratic breakfast. He would have paid for it, 
but how? 

He left the cafeteria and walked about the town as it seemed still to be 
quite early, though one could depend on neither sun nor clock for the 
time any more. The traffic lights were unchanging. He sat for a long time 
in a little park and watched the town and the big clock in the Commerce 

Building tower; but like all the clocks it was either stopped or the hand 
would creep too slowly to be seen. 

It must have been just about an hour till the traffic lights changed, but 
change they did at last. By picking a point on the building across the 
street and watching what moved by it, he found that the traffic did indeed 
move. In a minute or so, the entire length of a car would pass a given 

He had, he recalled, been very far behind in his work, and it had been 
worrying him. He decided to go to the office, early as it was or seemed to 

He let himself in. Nobody else was there. He resolved not to look at 
the clock and to be very careful of the way he handled all objects because 
of his new propensity for breaking things. This considered, all seemed 
normal here. He had said the day before that he could hardly catch up on 
his work if he worked for two days solid. He now resolved at least to work 
steadily until something happened, whatever it was. 

For hour after hour he worked on his tabulations and reports. Nobody 
else had arrived. Could something be wrong? Certainly something was 
wrong. But today was not a holiday. That was not it. 

Just how long can a stubborn and mystified man work away at his 
task? It was hour after hour after hour. He did not become hungry nor 
particularly tired. And he did get through a lot of work. 

“It must be half done. However it has happened, I have caught up at 
least a day’s work; I will keep on.” 

He must have worked silently for another eight or ten hours. 

He was caught up completely on his back work. 

“Well, to some extent I can work into the future. I can head-up and 
carry over. I can put in everything but the figures of the field reports.” 

And he did so. 

“It will he hard to bury me in work again. I could almost coast for a 
day. I don’t even know what day it is, but I must have worked twenty 
hours straight through and nobody has arrived. Perhaps nobody ever will 
arrive. If they are moving with the speed of the people in the nightmare 
outside, it is no wonder they have not arrived.” 

He put his head down in his arms on the desk. The last thing he saw 
before he closed his eyes was the misshapen left thumb that had always 
been his and which he had always tried to conceal a little by the way 

handled he his hands. 

“At least I know that I am still myself. I’d know myself anywhere by 

Then he went to sleep at his desk. 

Jenny came in with a quick click-click-click of high heels, and he 
wakened to the noise. 

“What are you doing dozing at your desk, Mr. Vincent? Have you been 
here all night?” 

“I don’t know, Jenny. Honestly I don’t.” 

“I was only teasing. Sometimes when I get here a little early I take a 
catnap myself.” 

The clock said six minutes till eight, and the second hand was 
sweeping normally. Time had returned to the world. Or to him. But had 
all that early morning of his been a dream? Then it had been a very 
efficient dream. He had accomplished work he could hardly have done in 
two days. And it was the same day that it was supposed to be. 

He went to the water fountain. The water now behaved normally. He 
went to the window. The traffic was behaving as it should. Though 
sometimes slow and sometimes snarled, yet it was in the pace of the 
regular world. 

The other workers arrived. They were not balls of fire, but neither was 
it necessary to observe them for several minutes to he sure that they 
weren’t dead. 

“It did have its advantages,” Charles Vincent said. “I would be afraid 
to have it permanently, but it would be handy to go into the state for a few 
minutes a day and accomplish the business of hours. I may be a case for 
the doctor. But just how would I go about telling a doctor what was 
bothering me?” 

Now it had surely been less than too hours from his first rising till the 
time that he wakened from his second sleep to the noise of Jenny. And 
how long that second sleep had been, or in which time enclave, he had no 
idea. But how account for it all? He had spent a long time in his own 
rooms, much longer than ordinary in his confusion. He had walked the 
city mile after mile in his puzzlement. And he had sat in the little park for 
hours and studied the situation. And he had sat and worked at his own 
desk for an outlandish long time. 

Well, he would go to the doctor. A man is obliged to refrain from 
making a fool of himself to the world at large, but to his lawyer, his priest, 
or his doctor he will sometimes have to come as a fool. By their callings 
they are restrained from scoffing openly. 

He went to the doctor at noon. 

Dr. Mason was not particularly a friend. Charles Vincent realized with 
some unease that he did not have any particular friends, only 
acquaintances and associates. It was as though he were of a species 
slightly apart from his fellows. He wished a little now that he had a 
particular friend. 

But Dr. Mason was an acquaintance of some years, had the reputation 
of being a good doctor, and besides, Vincent had now arrived at his office 
and been shown in. He would either have to — well, that was as good a 
beginning as any. 

“Doctor, I am in a predicament. I will either have to invent some 
symptoms to account for my visit here, or to make an excuse and bolt, or 
tell you what is bothering me, even though you will think that I am a new 
sort of idiot.” 

“Vincent, every day people invent symptoms to cover their visits here, 
and I know that they have lost their nerve about their real reason for 
corning. And every day people do make excuses and bolt. But experience 
tells me that I will get a larger fee if you tackle the third alternative. And, 
Vincent, there is no new sort of idiot.” 

“It may not sound so silly if I tell it quickly,” Vincent said. “I awoke 
this morning to some very puzzling incidents. It seemed that time itself 
had stopped, or that the whole world had gone into super-slow motion. 
The water would neither flow nor boil, and the fire would not heat food. 
The clocks, which I at first believed had stopped, crept along at perhaps a 
minute an hour. The people I met in the streets appeared dead, frozen in 
life-like attitudes. It was only by watching them for a very long tune that I 
perceived that they did indeed have motion. One taxi I saw creeping 
slower than the most backward snail, and a dead man at the wheel of it. I 
went to it, opened the door, and put on the brake. I realized after a time 
that the man was not dead. But he bent forward and broke his face on the 
steering heel. It must have taken a full minute for his head to travel no 
more than ten inches, yet I was unable to prevent him from hitting the 
wheel. I then did other bizarre things in a world that had died on its feet. 

I walked many miles through the city, and then I sat for countless hours 
in the park. I went to the office and let myself in. I accomplished work 
that must have taken me twenty hours. I then took a nap at my desk. 
When I awoke on the arrival of others it was six minutes till eight in the 
morning of the same day, today. Not two hours had passed from my 
rising, and time was back to normal. But there were things that happened 
in that time that could never be compressed into two hours.” 

“One question first, Vincent. Did you actually accomplish the work, 
the work of many hours?” 

“I did. It was done and done in that time. It did not become undone 
on the return of time to normal.” 

“A second question: had you been worried about your work, about 
being behind in your work?” 

“Yes. Emphatically.” 

“Then here is one explanation. You retired last night. But very shortly 
afterward you arose in a state of somnambulism. There are facets of 
sleep-walking which we do not at all understand. The time-out-of-focus 
interludes were parts of a walking dream of yours. You dressed and went 
to your office and worked all night. It is possible to do routine tasks while 
in a somnambulistic state, rapidly and even feverishly, to perform 
prodigies. You may have fallen into a normal sleep there when you had 
finished, or you may have been awakened directly from your 
somnambulistic trance on the arrival of your co-workers. There. That is a 
plausible and workable explanation. In the case of an apparently bizarre 
happening it is always well to have a rational explanation to fall back on. 
This will usually satisfy a patient and put his mind to rest. But often the 
explanation does not satisfy me.” 

“Your explanation very nearly satisfies me, Dr. Mason, and it does put 
my mind considerably at rest. I am sure that in a short while I will be able 
to accept it completely But why does it not satisfy you?” 

“One reason is a man, a taxi-driver, whom I treated very early this 
morning. He had his face smashed, and he had seen — or almost seen — a 
ghost: a ghost of in credible swiftness that was more sensed than seen. 
The ghost opened the door of his car while it was going a full speed, 
jerked on the brake, and caused him to crack his head. This man was 
dazed and had a slight concussion. I have convinced him that he did not 
see an ghost at all, that he must have dozed at the wheel and run into 

something. As I say, I am harder to convince than my patients. But it may 
have been coincidence. 

“I hope so. But you also seem to have another reservation as to my 

“After quite a few years in practice, I seldom see or hear anything new. 
Twice before I have been told a happening or a dream on the line of what 
you experienced.” 

“Did you convince your other patients that they were only dreams?” 

“I did. Both of them. That is, I convinced them the first few times it 
happened to them.” 

“Were they satisfied?” 

“At first they were. Later not entirely. But they both died within a year 
of their coming to me. 

“Of nothing violent, I hope.” 

“Both had the most gentle deaths. That of senility extreme.” 

“Oh. Well I’m too young for that.” 

“Vincent, I would like you to come back in a month or so.” 

“I will, if the delusion or the dream returns. Or if I do not feel well.” 

After this Charles Vincent began to forget about the incident. He only 
recalled it with humor sometimes when again he was behind in his work. 

“Well, if it gets bad enough I may do another sleepwalking jag and 
catch up. But if there is another aspect of time and I could enter it at will, 
it might often be handy.” 

Charles Vincent never saw the man’s face at all. It is very dark in some 
of those clubs and the Coq Bleu is like the inside of a tomb. Vincent went 
to the clubs only about once a month, sometimes after a show when he 
did not want to go home to bed, sometimes when he was just plain 

Citizens of the more fortunate states may not know of the mysteries of 
the clubs. In Vincent’s the only bars are beer bars, and only in the clubs 
can a person get a drink, and only members are admitted. It is true that a 
small club as the Coq Bleu had thirty thousand members, and at a dollar 
a year this is a nice sideline. The little numbered membership cards cost a 
penny each for the printing, and the member wrote in his own name. But 
he was supposed to have a card or a dollar for a card to gain admittance. 

But there could be no entertainment in the clubs. There was nothing 
there but the little bar room in the near darkness. The near darkness of 

the clubs was custom only but it had the force of the law. 

The man was there, and then he was not, and then he was there again. 
And always where he sat it was too dark to see his face. 

“I wonder,” he said to Vincent (or to the bar at large, though there 
were no other customers and the bartender was asleep). “I wonder if you 
have read Zubarin on the relationship of extradigitalism to genius?” 

“I have never heard of the work nor of the man,” said Vincent. “Doubt 
if either exist.” 

“I am Zubarin.” said the man. 

Vincent instinctively hid his misshapen left thumb. Yet it could not 
have been noticed in that light, and he must have been crazy to believe 
that there was any connection between it and the man’s remark. It was 
not truly a double thumb. He was not an extradigital, nor was he a genius. 

“I refuse to become interested in you,” said Vincent. “I am on the 
verge of leaving. I dislike waking the bartender, but I did want another 

“Sooner done than said.” 

“What is?” 

“Your glass is full.” 

“It is? So it is. Is it a trick?” 

“Trick is a name for anything either too frivolous or too mystifying for 
us to comprehend. But on one long early morning a month ago you also 
could have done the trick, and nearly as well.” 

“Could I have? How do you know about my long early morning — 
assuming there to have been such?” 

“I watched you for a while. Few others have the equipment with which 
to watch you when you’re in the aspect.” 

So they were silent for some time, and Vincent watched the clock and 
was ready to go. 

“I wonder,” said the man in the dark, “if you have read 
Schimmelpenninck on the sexagintal and the duodecimal in the Chaldee 

“I have not, and I doubt if anyone else has. I would guess that you are 
also Schimmelpenninck, and that you have just made up the name on the 
spur of the moment.” 

“I am Schimm, it is true, but I made up the name on the spur of the 
moment many years ago.” 

“I am a little bored with you,” said Vincent, “but I would appreciate it 
if you’d do your glass-filling trick once more.” 

“I have just done so again. And you are not bored; you are frightened.” 

“Of what?” asked Vincent, whose glass had in fact filled again. 

“Of reentering a dream that you are not sure was a dream. But there 
are often advantages to being both invisible and inaudible.” 

“Can you be invisible?” 

“Was I not so when I went behind the bar just now and fixed you a 


“A man in full stride goes at the rate of about five miles an hour. 
Multiply that by sixty, which is the number of time. When I leave my 
stool and go behind the bar I go at the rate of three hundred miles an 
hour. So I am invisible to you, particularly if I move while you blink.” 

“One thing does not match. You might have got around there and 
back. But you could not have poured.” 

“Shall I say that mastery over liquids and other objects is not given to 
beginners? But for us there are many ways to outwit the slowness of 

“I believe that you are a hoaxer. Do you know Dr. Mason?” 

“I know of him, and that you went to see him. I know of his futile 
attempts to penetrate a certain mystery. But I have not talked to him of 

“I still believe that you are a phony. Could you put me back into the 
state of my dream of a month ago?” 

“It was not a dream. But I could put you again into that state.” 

“Prove it.” 

“Watch the clock. Do you believe that I can point my finger at it and 
stop it for you? It is already stopped for me.” 

“No, I don’t believe it. Yes, I guess I have to, since I see that you have 
just done it. But it may be another trick. I don’t know where the clock is 
plugged in.” 

“Neither do I. Come to the door. Look at every clock you can see. Are 
they not all stopped?” 

“Yes. Maybe the power has gone off all over town.” 

“You know it has not. There are still a few lighted windows in those 
buildings, though it is quite late.” 

“Why are you playing with me? I am neither on the inside nor the 
outside. Either tell me the secret or say that you will not tell me.” 

“The secret isn’t a simple one. It can only be arrived at after all 
philosophy and learning has been assimilated.” 

“One man cannot arrive at that in one lifetime.” 

“Not in an ordinary lifetime. But the secret of the secret, if I may put it 
that way, is that one must use part of it as a tool in learning. You could 
not learn all in one lifetime but, by being permitted the first step, to be 
able to read, say, sixty books in the time it took you to read one, to pause 
for a minute in thought and use up only one second, to get the day’s work 
accomplished in eight minutes and so have time for other things — by 
such ways one may make a beginning. I will warn you, though. Even for 
the most intelligent it is a race.” 

“A race? What race?” 

“It is a race between success, which is life, and failure, which is death.” 

“Let us skip the melodrama. But how do I get into the state and out of 

“Oh, that is simple, so easy that it seems like a gadget. Here are two 
diagrams I will draw. Note them carefully. This first — invision it in your 
mind, and you are in the state. Now the second one — invision, and you 
are out of it.” 

“That easy?” 

“That deceptively easy. The trick is to learn why it works — if you want 
to succeed, meaning to live.” 

So Charles Vincent left him and went home, walking the mile in a little 
less than fifteen seconds. But he still had not seen the face of the man. 

There are advantages intellectual, monetary, and amorous in being 
able to enter the accelerated state at will. It is a fox game. One must be 
careful not to be caught at it, nor to break or harm that which is in the 
normal state. 

Vincent could always find eight or ten minutes unobserved to 
accomplish the day’s work. And a fifteen-minute coffee break could turn 
into a fifteen hour romp around the town. 

There was this boyish pleasure in becoming a ghost: to appear and 
stand motionless in front of an onrushing train and to cause the scream 
of the whistle, and to be in no danger, being able to move five or ten times 
as fast as the train; to enter and to sit suddenly in the middle of a select 

group and see them stare, and then virtually to disappear from the 
middle of them; to interfere in sports and games, entering the prize ring 
and tripping, hampering, or slugging the unliked fighter; to blue-shot 
down the hockey ice, skating at fifteen hundred miles an hour and scoring 
dozens of goals at either end while the people only know that something 
odd is happening. 

There is pleasure in being able to shatter windows by chanting little 
songs, for the voice (when in the state) will be to the world at sixty times 
its regular pitch, though normal to oneself. And for this reason also he 
was inaudible to others. 

There was fun in petty thieving and tricks. He could take a wallet from 
a man’s pocket and be two blocks away when the victim turned at the feel. 
He could come back and stuff it into the man’s mouth as he bleated to a 

He could come into the home of a lady writing a letter, snatch up the 
paper and write three lines on it and vanish before the scream got out of 
her throat. 

He could take shoe and sock off a man’s foot while he was in full 
stride. No human face since the beginning of time ever showed such a 
look of pure astonishment as that of the man to whom this first 
happened. Discovering oneself half barefoot of a sudden in a crowded 
street has no parallel in all experience. 

Vincent could paint the eyeglasses of a man dark green, and this 
would somehow alter the man’s whole personality. He’d gulp and wave 
his arms and develop new mannerisms. Or as a victim took the first puff 
of a cigarette Vincent would take it from his mouth, smoke it quickly 
down to the hot nub, and replace it. 

He would take food off forks on the way to mouths, put baby turtles 
and live fish into bowls of soup between spoonfuls of the eater. And, as a 
cook cracked an egg over the griddle, he would scoop up the soft contents 
in mid-air and set down a full-grown quacking duck to the discomfort of 
both cook and bird. 

He would lash the hands of hand-shakers tightly together with stout 
cord, and tie together the shoe laces of dancing partners. Or he would 
remove the strings of guitars while they were being played, or steal the 
mouthpiece of a horn while the operator paused for breath. He 
unzippered persons of both sexes when they were at their most pompous, 

and it was on his account (probably) that Feldman was not elected mayor. 
This was something that happened on the public platform, and Feldman 
was completely undone. 

This thing can remain a pleasant novelty for some time. There was, of 
course, the difficulty of moving large objects. Vincent always wanted to 
intrude a horse into the midst of a certain assembly. But a horse is too 
large to he moved in an accelerated time. Vincent drew out the diagram 
that the faceless man had given him, and presented it to the only horse he 
knew. But the horse did not get the idea. It would not go into the 
accelerated state. 

“I will either have to find a smarter horse or a new method of moving 
heavy objects,” said Charles Vincent. 

Vincent would sometimes handcuff two strangers together as they 
stood waiting for a traffic light to change. He would lash leaners to lamp 
posts, and steal the teeth from the mouths of those afflicted with 

He would write cryptic and frightening messages in grease pencil on a 
plate just as a diner began to fill it. He changed cards from one player’s 
hands to another’s while play was in progress, and he interfered 
perversely with billiard balls. 

He removed golf balls from tees during the back swing, and left notes 
written large “YOU MISSED ME” pinned to the ground with the tee. 

He stole baseballs from catchers’ mitts at the instant if impact, and 
left instead small unfledged live sparrows. It was found that there is 
nothing in the rule book to cover this. 

Or he shaved moustaches and heads. Returning repeatedly to one 
woman he disliked, he clipped her bald and gilded her pate. 

With tellers counting their money he interfered outrageously and 
enriched himself. He snipped cigarettes in two with a scissors and blew 
out matches and lighters, so that one frustrated man actually broke down 
and cried at his inability to get a light. 

He removed the weapons from the holsters of policemen and put cap 
pistols and water guns in their places. And he liked to rip off one sleeve 
only from the coat of a walking gentleman. There is something funnier 
about one sleeve missing than two. 

He unclipped the leashes of dogs and substituted little toy dogs rolling 
on wheels. He put frogs in water glasses and left lighted firecrackers on 

bridge tables. He reset wristwatches on wrists; and played cruel tricks in 
mens’ rooms, causing honest gentleman to wet themselves. 

“I was always a boy at heart,” said Charles Vincent. 

Also during those first few days of the controlled new state, he 
established himself materially, acquiring wealth by devious ways, and 
opening bank accounts in various cities uuder various names, against a 
time of possible need. 

Nor did he ever feel any shame for the tricks that he played on 
unaccelerated humanity. For the people, when he was in the state, were 
as statues to him, hardly living, barely moving, unseeing, unhearing. And 
it is no shame to show disrespect to such comical statues. 

And also, and again because he was a boy at heart, he had fun with the 

“I am one mass of black and blue marks,” said Jenny one day. “My lips 
are sore and my front teeth are loosened. I don’t know what in the world 
is the matter with me.” 

Yet he had not meant to bruise or harm her. He was rather fond of her 
and he resolved to be much more careful. Yet it was fun, when he was in 
the state and so invisible to her because of his speed, to kiss her here and 
there in out-of-the-way places and show her other hallmarks of affection. 
She made a nice statue and it was good sport. And there were others. 

“You look suddenly older,” said one of his co-workers one day. “Are 
you taking care of yourself? Are you worried?” 

“I am not,” said Vincent. “I was never happier in my life.” 

But now there was time for so many things, in fact, everything. There 
was no reason why he could not master anything in the world, when he 
could take off for fifteen minutes and gain fifteen hours. Vincent was a 
rapid but careful reader. He could now read from a hundred and twenty 
to two hundred books in an evening and night; and he slept in an 
accelerated state and could get a full night’s sleep in eight minutes. 

He first acquired a knowledge of the languages. A quite extensive 
reading knowledge of a language can be acquired in three hundred hours 
of world time, or three hundred minutes (five hours) of accelerated time. 
And if one takes the tongues in order, from the most familiar to the most 
remote, there is no real difficulty. He acquired fifty for a starter, and 
could always add another any evening that he found he had a need for it. 

And at the same time he began to assemble and consolidate 

knowledge. Of literature, properly speaking, there are no more than ten 
thousand books that are really worth reading and falling in love with. 
These were gone through with high pleasure, and two or three thousand 
of them were important enough to be reserved for future rereading. 

History, however, is very uneven. It is necessary to read texts and 
sources that for form are not worth reading. And the same with 
philosophy. Mathematics and science, pure or physical, could not, of 
course, be covered with the same speed. Yet, with time available, all could 
be mastered. There is no concept ever expressed by any human mind that 
cannot be comprehended by any other normal human mind, if time is 
available, and if it is taken in the proper order and context and with the 
proper preparatory work. 

And often, and now more often, Vincent felt that he was touching the 
fingers of the secret. And always, when he came near it it had a little bit of 
the smell of the Pit. 

For he had pegged out all the main points of the history of man, or 
rather most of the tenable, or at least possible theories of the history of 
man. It was hard to hold the main line of it: that double road of 
rationality and revelation that should lead always to a fuller and fuller 
development, to an unfolding and growth and perfectibility. Sometimes 
he felt that he was trespassing on the history of something other than 

For the main line of the account was often obscure and all but 
obliterated, and traced through fog and miasma. Vincent had accepted 
the Fall of Man and the Redemption as the cardinal points of history. But 
he began to feel now that neither had happened only once, that both were 
of constant recurrence; that there was a hand reaching up from that old 
Pit with its shadow over man. And he came to picture that hand in his 
dreams — for his dreams were especially vivid when in the state — as a 
six-digited monster reaching out. He began to realize that the thing he 
was caught in was dangerous and deadly. 

Very dangerous. 

Very deadly. 

One of the weird books that he often returned to and which 
continually puzzled him was The Relationship of Extradigitalism to 
Genius, written by the man whose face he had never seen, in one of his 

It promised more than it delivered, and it intimated more than it said. 
Its theory was tedious and tenuous, holstered with undigested mountains 
of doubtful data. It left Vincent unconvinced that persons of genius — 
even if it could be agreed who or what they were — had often the oddity of 
extra fingers or toes, or the vestiges of them. And it puzzled him what 
possible difference it could make. 

Yet there were hints here of a Corsican who commonly kept a hand 
hidden; of an earlier and more bizarre commander who always wore a 
mailed glove; of another man with a glove between the two; hints that the 
multiplex adept, Leonardo himself, who sometimes drew the hands of 
men and more often those of monsters with six fingers, had had the 
touch. There was a comment on Caeser, not conclusive, to the same 

It is known that Alexander had a minor deformity. It is not known 
what it was. This man made it seem that this was it. And it was averred of 
Gregory and Augustine, of Benedict and Albert and Aquinas. Yet a man 
with a deformity could not enter the priesthood; if they had it, it must 
have been in vestigial form. 

There were cases for Charles Magnus and Mahmud, for Saladin the 
horseman and for Akhnaton the king; for Homer — a Seleucid-Greek 
statuette shows him with six fingers strumming an unidentified 
instrument while reciting; cases for Pythagoras, for Buonottoti, Santi, 
Theotokopolous, van Bijn, Robusti. And going farther back in time, and 
less subject to proof, they became much more numerous. 

Zurbarin cataloged eight thousand of them. He maintained that they 
were geniuses. And that they were extra digitals. 

Charles Vincent grinned and looked down at his misshapen or double 

“At least I am in good though monotonous company. But what in the 
name of triple time is he driving at?” 

And it was not long afterward that Vincent was examining cuneiform 
tablets in State Museum. These were a broken and not continuous series 
on the theory of numbers, tolerably legible to the now encyclopedic 
Charles Vincent. And the series read in part: 

On the divergence of the basis itself and the confusion caused by — for 
it is Five, or it is Six, or Ten or Twelve, or Sixty or One Hundred, or Three 
hundred and Sixty or the Double Hundred, the Thousand. The reason, 

not clearly understood by the People, is that Six and the Dozen are First, 
and Sixty is a compromise in condescending to the people. 

For the Five, the Ten are late, and are no older than the People 
themselves. It is said, and credited, that the People began to count by 
Fives and Tens from the number of fingers on their hands. But before the 
People the —, for the reason that they had —, counted by Sixes and 
Twelves. But Sixty is the number of time, divisible by both, for both must 
live together in Time, though not on the same plane of time — 

Much of the rest was scattered. It was while trying to set the hundreds 
of unordered clay tablets in proper sequence that Charles Vincent created 
the legend of the ghost in the museum. 

For he spent his multi-hundred-hour nights there studying and 
classifying. Naturally he could not work without light, and naturally he 
could be seen when he sat still at his studies. But as the slow-moving 
guards attempted to close in on him, he would move to avoid them, and 
his speed made him invisible to them. They were a nuisance and had to 
be discouraged. He belabored them soundly and they became less eager 
to try to capture him. 

His only fear was that they would sometime try to shoot him to see if 
he were ghost or human. He could avoid a seen shot which would come at 
no more than two and a half times his own greatest speed. But an 
unperceived shot could penetrate dangerously, even fatally, before he 
twisted away from it. 

Vincent had fathered legends of other ghosts, that of the Central 
Library, that of the University Library, that of the John Charles 
Underwood Jr. Technical Library. This plurality of ghosts tended to 
cancel out each other and bring believers into ridicule. Even those who 
had seen him as a ghost did not admit that they believed in ghosts. 

Charles Vincent had gone back to Dr. Mason for his monthly checkup. 

“You look terrible,” said the doctor. “Whatever it is, you have changed. 
If you have the means you should, take a long rest.” 

“I have the means, said Vincent, “and that is just what I will do. I’ll 
take a rest for a year or two.” 

He had begun to begrudge the time that he must spend at the world’s 
pace. From this time on he was regarded as a recluse. He was silent and 
unsociable, for he found it a nuisance to come back to the common state 
to engage in conversation, and in his special state the voices were too 

slow-pitched to intrude on his consciousness. 

Except that of the man whose face he had never seen. 

“You are making very tardy progress,” said the man. Once more they 
were in a dark club. “Those who do not show more progress we cannot 
use. After all, you are only a vestigial. It is probable that you have very 
little of the ancient race in you. Fortunately those who do not progress 
destroy themselves. You had not imagined that there were only two 
phases of time, had you?” 

“Lately I have come to suspect that there are many more,” said 
Charles Vincent. 

“And you understand that one step only cannot succeed?” 

“I understand that the life that I have been living is in direct violation 
of all that we know of the laws of mass, momentum and acceleration, as 
well as those of conservation of energy, the potential of the human 
person, the moral compensation, the golden mean, and the capacity of 
human organs. I know that I cannot multiply energy and experience sixty 
times without increase of food intake, and yet I do it. I know that I cannot 
live on eight minutes of sleep in twenty-four hours, but I do that also. I 
know that I cannot reasonably crowd four thousand years of experience 
into one life time, yet unreasonably I do not see what will prevent it. But 
you say that I will destroy myself?” 

“Those who take only the first step will destroy themselves.” 

“And how does one take the second step?” 

“At the proper moment you will be given the choice.” 

“I have the most uncanny feeling that I will refuse the choice.” 

“Yes from present indications you will refuse it. You are fastidious.” 

“You have a smell about you, Old Man Without a Face. I know now 
what it is. It is the smell of the Pit.” 

“Are you so slow to learn that? But that is its name.” 

“It is the mud from the Pit, the same from which the clay tablets were 
found, from the old land between the rivers. I’ve dreamed of the six¬ 
fingered hand reaching up from that Pit and overshadowing us all. From 
that slime!” 

“Do not forget that according to another recension Another made the 
People from that same slime.” 

“And I have read, Old Man: ‘The People first counted by Fives and 
Tens from the number of fingers on their hands. Put before the People 

the —, for the reason that they had —, counted by Sixes and Twelve, But 
time has left blanks on those tablets.” 

“Yes. Time, in one of its manifestations, has deftly and with a purpose 
left those blanks.” 

“I cannot discover the name of the thing that goes into one of those 
blanks. Can you?” 

“I am part of the name that goes into one of those blanks.” 

“And you are the Man without a Face. But why is it that you 
overshadow and control people? And to what purpose?” 

“It will be long before you know those answers.” 

“When the choice comes to me, it will bear very careful weighing. But 
tell me, Man without a Face who comes from the Pit, are not pits and men 
without faces very nineteenth-century Gothic?” 

“There was a temper in that century that came very close to 
uncovering us.” 

After that a chill descended on the life of Charles Vincent, for all that 
he still possessed his exceptional powers. And now he seldom indulged in 

Except with Jennifer Parkey. 

It was unusual that he should be drawn to her. He knew her only 
slightly in the common world, and she was at least fifteen years his 
senior. But she now appealed to him for her youthful qualities, and all his 
pranks with her were gentle ones. 

For one thing this spinster did not frighten, nor did she begin the 
precaution of locking her doors, never having bothered with such things 
before. He would come behind her and stroke her hair, and she would 
speak out calmly with that sort of quickening in her voice: 

“Who are you? Why won’t you let me see you? You are a friend, aren’t 
you? Are you a man, or are you something else? If you can caress me why 
can’t you talk to me? Please let me see you. I promise I won’t hurt you.” 

It was as though she could not imagine that anything strange would 
hurt her. Or again when he hugged her or kissed her on the nape, she 
would call: “You must be a little boy, or very like a little boy, whoever you 
are. You are good not to break my things when you move about. Come 
here and let me hold you.” 

It is only very good people who have no fear at all of the unknown. 

When Vincent met Jennifer in the regular world, as he now more 

often found occasion to do, she looked at him apprisingly, as though she 
guessed some sort of connection. 

She said one day, “I know it is an impolite thing to say, but you do not 
look well at all. Have you been to a doctor?” 

“Several times. But I think it is my doctor who should go to a doctor. 
He was always given to peculiar remarks. But now he is becoming a little 

“If I were your doctor, I believe that I would also become a little 
unsettled. But you should find out what is wrong. You look terrible.” 

He did not look terrible. He had lost his hair, it is true, hut many men 
lose their hair by thirty, though not perhaps as suddenly as he had. He 
thought of attributing it to air resistance. After all, when he was in the 
state he did stride at some three hundred miles an hour. And enough of 
that is likely to blow the hair right off your head. And might that not also 
be the reason for his worsening complexion and the tireder look that 
appeared in his eyes? But he knew that this was nonsense. He felt no 
more air pressure when in his accelerated state than when in his normal 

He had received his summons. He chose not to answer it. He did not 
want to be presented with the choice; he had no wish to be one with those 
in the Pit. But he had no intention of giving up the great advantage which 
he now held over nature. 

“I will have it both ways,” he said. “I am already a contradiction and 
an impossibility. ‘You can’t have your confection and eat it too.’ The 
proverb was only the early statement of the law of moral compensation. 
‘You can’t take more out of a basket than it holds.’ But for a long time I 
have been in violation of the laws and the balances. ‘There is no road 
without a turning,’ ‘Those who dance will have to pay the fiddler,’ 
‘Everything that goes up comes down.’ But are proverbs really universal 
laws? Certainly. A sound proverb has the force of universal law, is but 
another statement of it. But I have contradicted the universal laws It 
remains to be seen whether I have contradicted them with impunity. 

“‘Every action has its reaction.’ If I refuse to deal with them, I will 
provoke a strong reaction. The Man without a Face said that it was always 
a race between full knowing and destruction. Very well, I will race them 
for it.” 

They began to persecute him then. He knew that they were in a state 

as accelerated from his as his was from the normal. To them he was the 
almost motionless statue, hardly to be told from a dead man. To him they 
were by their speed both invisible and inaudible. They hurt him and 
haunted him. But still he would not answer their summons. 

When the meeting took place, it was they who had to come to him, 
and they materialized there in his room, men without faces. 

“The choice,” said one. “Well, you force us to be so clumsy as to have 
to voice it.” 

“I will have no part of you,” said Charles Vincent. “You all smell of the 
Pit, of that old mud of the cuneiforms of the land between the rivers, of 
the people who were before the People.” 

“It has endured a long time,” one of them said, “and we consider it as 
enduring forever. But the Garden, which was quite in the neighborhood 
— do you know how long the Garden lasted?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“Not even a day. It all happened in a single day, and before nightfall 
they were outside. You want to throw in with something more 
permanent, don’t you?” 

“No.i don’t believe that I do.” 

“What have you to lose?” 

“Only my hope of eternity.” 

“But you don’t believe in that. No man has ever really believed in 

“No man has ever either entirely believed or entirely disbelieved in it,” 
said Charles Vincent. 

“At least it can never be proved,” said one of the faceless men. 
“Nothing is proved until it is over with. And in this case, if it is ever over 
with, then it is disproved. And all that time would one not be tempted to 
wonder ‘What if, after all, it ends in the next minute?’“ 

“I imagine, if we survive the flesh, we will receive some sort of surety,” 
said Vincent. 

“But you are not sure either of surviving or receiving, nor could you 
accept the surety as sure. Now we have a very close approximation of 
eternity. When Time is multiplied by itself, and that repeated again and 
again, does that not approximate eternity?” 

“I don’t believe that it does. But I will not be of you. One of you has 
said that I am too fastidious. So now will you say that you’ll destroy me?” 

“No. we will only let you be destroyed. By yourself, you cannot win the 
race with destruction.” 

After that Charles Vincent somehow felt more mature. He knew he 
was not really meant to be a poltergeist or a six-fingered thing out of the 
Pit. He knew that in some way he would have to pay for every minute and 
hour that he had gained. But what he had gained he would use to the 
fullest. And whatever could be accomplished by sheer acquisition of 
human knowledge, he would try to accomplish. 

And he now startled Dr. Mason by the medical knowledge he had 
picked up, the while the doctor amused him by the concern he showed for 
Vincent. For he felt fine. He was perhaps not as active as he had been, but 
that was only because he had become dubious of aimless activities. He 
was still the ghost of the libraries and museums, but was puzzled that the 
published reports intimated that an old ghost had replaced a young one. 

He now paid his mystic visits to Jennifer Parkey less often. For he was 
always dismayed to hear her exclaim to him in his ghostly form, “Your 
touch is so changed. You poor thing! Is there anything at all I can do to 
help you?” 

He decided that somehow she was too immature to ever understand 
him, though he was still fond of her. He trarsferred his affections to Mrs. 
Milly Maitby, a widow at least thirty years his senior. Yet here it was a 
sort of girlishness in her that appealed to him. She was a woman of sharp 
wit and real affection, and she also accepted his visitations without fear, 
following a little initial panic. 

They played games, writing games, for they communicated by writing. 
Milly would scribble a line, then hold the paper up in the air whence he 
would cause it to vanish into his sphere. He would return it in half a 
minute, or half a second of her time, with his retort. He had the 
advantage of her in time with greatly more opportunity to think up 
responses, but she had the advantage over him in natural wit and was 
hard to top. 

They also played checkers, and he often had to retire apart and read a 
chapter of a book on the art between moves; and even so she often beat 
him. For natural talent is likely to be a match for accumulated lore and 
codified procedure. 

But to Milly also he was unfaithful in his fashion, being now interested 
— he no longer became enamored or entranced — in a Mrs. Roberts, a 

great-grandmother who was his elder by at least fifty years. He had read 
all the data extant on the attraction of the old for the young, but he still 
could not explain his successive attachments. He decided that these three 
examples were enough to establish a universal law: that a woman is 
simply not afraid of a ghost, though he touches her and is invisible, and 
writes her notes without hands. It is possible that amorous spirits have 
known this for a long time, but Charles Vincent had made the discovery 
himself independently. 

When enough knowledge is accumulated on any subject, the pattern 
will sometimes emerge suddenly, like a form in a picture revealed where 
before it was not seen. And when enough knowledge is accumulated on 
all subjects, is there not a chance that a pattern governing all subjects will 

Charles Vincent was caught up in his last enthusiasm. On one long 
vigil, as he consulted source after source and sorted them in his mind, it 
seemed that the pattern was coming out clearly and simply, for all its 
amazing complexity of detail. 

“I know all that they know in the Pit,” said Vincent, “and I know a 
secret that they do not know. I have not lost the race — I have won it. I 
can defeat them at the point where they believe themselves invulnerable. 
If controlled hereafter, we need at least not be controlled by them. It is all 
falling together now. I have found the final truth and it is they who have 
lost the race. I hold the key. I will now be able to enjoy the advantage 
without paying the ultimate price of defeat and destruction, or of 
collaborating with them. 

“Now I have only to implement my knowledge, to publish the fact, and 
one shadow at least will be lifted from mankind. I will do it at once. Well, 
nearly at once. It is almost dawn in the normal world. I will sit here a very 
little while and rest. Then I will go out and begin to make contact with the 
proper persons for the disposition of this thing. But first I will sit here a 
little while and rest.” 

And he died quietly in his chair as he sat there. 

Dr. Mason made an entry in his private journal: 

Charles Vincent, a completely authenticated case of premature aging, 
one of the most clear-cut in all gerontology. This man was known to me 
for many years, and I here aver that as of one year ago he was of normal 
appearance and physical state, and that his chronology is also correct, I 

having also known his father. I examined the subject during the period of 
his illness, and there is no question at all of his identity, which has also 
been established for the record by fingerprinting and other means. I aver 
that Charles Vincent at the age of thirty is dead of old age, having the 
appearance and organic state of a man of ninety. 

Then the doctor began to make other notes: “As in two other cases of 
my own observation, the illness was accompanied by a certain delusion 
and series of dreams, so nearly identical in all three men as to be almost 
unbelievable. And for the record, and no doubt to the prejudice of my 
own reputation, I will set down the report of them here.” 

But when Dr. Mason had written that, he thought about it for a while. 

“No, I will do no such thing,” he said, and he struck out the last lines 
he had written. “It is best to let sleeping dragons lie.” 

And somewhere the faceless men with the smell of the Pit on them 
smiled to themselves in quiet irony. 


In the town there are many races living; each in its own enclave, some 
of many square miles, some of a few acres only, some of but one or two 
streets. Its geographers say that it has more Italians than Rome, more 
Irish than Dublin, more Jews than Israel, more Armenians than Yerevan. 

But this overlooks the most important race of all. There is the further 
fact (known only to the more intense geographers): it has more 
Rrequesenians than any town in the world. There are more than a 
hundred of them. 

By the vulgar the Rrequesenians are called Wrecks, and their quarter 
is Wreckville. And there is this that can be said of them that cannot be 
said of any other race on earth: Every one of them is a genius. 

These people are unique. They are not Gypsies, though they are often 
taken for them. They are not Semites. They are not even children of 

Willy McGilley, the oldest of the Wrecks (they now use Gentile names) 
has an old baked tablet made of straw and pressed sheep dung that is 
eight thousand years old and gives the true story of their origin. Adam 
had three brothers: Etienne, Yancy, and Rreq. Etienne and Yancy were 
bachelors. Rreq had a small family and all his issue have had small 
families; until now there are about two hundred of them in all, the most 
who have ever been in the world at one time. They have never 
intermarried with the children of Adam except once. And not being of the 
same recension they are not under the same curse to work for a living. 

So they do not. 

Instead they batten on the children of Adam by clever devices that are 
known in police court as swindles. 

Catherine O’Conneley by ordinary standards would be reckoned as the 
most beautiful of the Wrecks. By at least three dozen men she was 
considered the most beautiful girl in the world. But by Wreckian 
standards she was plain. Her nose was too small, only a little larger than 
that of ordinary women; and she was skinny as a crow, being on the slight 
side of a hundred and sixty. Being beautiful only by worldly standards she 
was reduced even more than the rest of them to living by her wits and 

She was a show girl and a bar girl. She gave piano lessons and drawing 

lessons and tap-dancing lessons. She told fortunes and sold oriental mgs 
and junk jewelry, and kept company with lonely old rich men. She was 
able to do all these things because she was one bundle of energy. 

She had no family except a number of unmarried uncles, the six 
Petapolis brothers, the three Petersens, the five Calderons, the four 
Oskamans; and Charley O’Malley, nineteen in all. 

Now it was early morning and a lady knocked at her door. 

“The oil stock is no good. I checked and the place would be three 
hundred miles out to sea and three miles down. My brother says I’ve been 

“Possibly your brother isn’t up on the latest developments in offshore 
drilling. We have the richest undeveloped field in the world and virtually 
no competition. I can promise we will have any number of gushers within 
a week. And if your brother has any money I can still let him have stock 
till noon today at a hundred and seventy-five dollars a share.” 

“But I only paid twenty-five a share for mine.” 

“See how fast it has gone up in only two days. What other stock rises 
so fast?” 

“Well all right, I’ll go tell him.” 

There was another knock on the door. 

“My little girl take piano lessons for six weeks and all she can play is 
da da da.” 

“Good. It is better to learn one note thoroughly than just a little bit of 
all of them. She is not ready for the other notes yet. But I can tell you this: 
she is the most intelligent little girl I have ever seen in my life and I 
believe she has a positive genius for the piano. I truly believe she will 
blossom all at once and one of these days she will be playing complete 

You really think so?” 

I do indeed.” 

“Well then I will pay you for six more weeks, but 1 do wish she could 
play more than da da da.” 

There was another knock at the door. 

“Honey Bun, there was something wrong. I give you ten dollars to bet 
on Summertime in the first race at Marine Park; you say it’s a sure thing 
and fifty to one. But now I find there isn’t any such track as Marine Park 
and nobody ever heard of the horse. Huh, Honey Bun? What you do to 

your best boy friend?” 

“o, we use code names. What if all these hot tips ever got out? 
Summertime of course was Long Day and Marine Park was Jamaica. And 
he only lost by about six noses. Wasn’t that good for a fifty to one? And 
now I have an even better tip. It’s so hot I can’t even tell you the name of 
the horse, but I feel sure that twenty would get you a thousand.” 

“All the time I give you money but never I win yet, Honey Bun. Now 
you give a little kiss and we talk about another bet.” 

“I had surely thought our attachment was on a higher plane.” 

“Words, Honey Bun, always words. But you give, um, um, urn, that’s 
good. Now I bet again, but I bet I better win someday.” 

There was another knock on the door. 

“How come you let my brother-in-law in on a good thing and never 
tell me? For a hundred he’ll have two hundred and fifty in a week, and 
you never tell me, and I’m your friend and never persecute you when you 
don’t pay your bill.” 

So she had to give her caller the same deal she had given his brother- 

After that she went out to take the game out of her traps. She had set 
and baited them some days before. She had gone to see five hundred 
people, which took quite a while even for one with her excess of energy. 
And to each she said this: 

“I have just discovered that I have an infallible gift of picking winners. 
Now I want you to give it a test. Here is a sure winner I have picked. I ask 
you bet it, not with me, not with one of my uncles, but with a bookie of 
your own choice. I prefer not to know with whom you bet.” 

Of the five hundred there were a hundred and forty-four winners, very 
good. So the next day she went to the hundred and forty-four with even 
more assurance and offered them the same proposition again. And of the 
hundred and forty-four there were fifty-six winners. Very good, for she 
really could pick them. 

To these fifty-six she went the third day and offered them the third 
sure bet free. And incredibly of the fifty-six there were nineteen winners. 

This was repeated the next day, and of the nineteen there were seven 

Now she went to talk money. The seven lucky clients could not deny 
that she indeed had the gift of picking winners. She had given them all 

four straight in four days and her secret should surely be worth money. 
Besides, they had all let their bets ride and they had won a lot, an average 
of more than six hundred dollars. 

But she would give no more free tips. She would only sell her complete 
and exclusive secret for a thousand dollars. And she collected from six of 
them. The seventh was Mazuma O’Shaunessey. 

“I have given you four straight winners, but I cannot give you any 
more free tips. We will now talk cold turkey.” 

“I put it in a basket, Katie.” 

“Why, what do you mean, sir?” 

“I learned it in my cradle. The Inverted Pyramid. You tapped five 
hundred, and you got besides me how many? Five?” 

“Six besides you, seven in all.” “Very good. You pick them nice for a 
little girl. But isn’t that a lot of work for no more than a hatful of money?” 
“Six thousand dollars is a large hatful. And there is always one smart alec 
like you who knows it all.” “Now Kate dear, let’s look at it this way. I can 
really pick all the winners, not seven straights in five hundred, but all five 
hundred if I wished.” 

“o hah, you can’t fool this little-goose.” “o, I could prove it easily 
enough, but that’s showy and I hate to be a show-off. So I suggest that 
you take my word for it and share my secret with me and give up this 
penny ante stuff.” 

“And all you want for your sure thing secret is five thousand dollars or 
so?” “Why Kate, I don’t want your money. I have so much that it’s a 
burden to me. I only want to marry you.” 

She looked at him and she was not sure, o, not about marrying him, 
he was nice enough. She was not sure, she had never been sure, that he 
was a Wreck. 

“Are you?” 

“Why Kate, does one Wreck have to ask another that question?” 

“I guess not. I’ll go ask my uncles what they think. This is something 
of a decision.” 

She went to see all her bachelor uncles and asked them what they 
knew about Mazuma o’Shaunessey. 

He was known to all of them. 

“He is a competent boy, Kate,” said Demetrio Petapolis. “If I do not 
miscount I once came out a little short on a deal with him. He knows the 

Virginia City Version, he knows the old Seven-Three-Three, he can do the 
Professor and His Dog, and the Little Audrey. And he seems to be quite 
rich. But is he?” 

He meant, not is he rich, but — is he a Wreck? 

“Does one Wreck have to ask another that question?” said Kate. 

“No, I guess not.” 

Hodl Oskanian knew him too. 

“That boy is real cute. It seems in the last deal I had with him he came 
out a little ahead. It seems that in every deal I have with him he comes 
out a little ahead. He knows the Denver Deal and the Chicago Cut. He 
does the Little Old Lady and the Blue Hat. He knows the Silver Lining 
and the Doghouse and the Double Doghouse. And he seems quite 
likeable. But is he?” 

He meant, not was he likeable, but — was he a Wreck? 

“Cannot one Wreck always tell another?” said Kate loftily. 

Lars Petersen knew Mazuma too. 

“He is a klog pog. He knows the Oslo Puds and the Copenhagen Streg. 
He knows the Farmer’s Wife and the Little Black Dog. He can do the 
Seventy-Three and the Supper Club. And he runs more tricks with the 
Sleepy River than anyone I ever saw, and has three different versions of 
the Raft and four of Down the Smoke Stack. And all the officers on the 
bilk squad give him half their pay every week to invest for them, He 
seems quite smart. But is he?” 

He meant, not was he smart, but — is he a Wreck? 

“Should one have to ask?” said Kate haughtily. 

Her uncle Charley O’Malley also thought well of Mazuma. 

“I am not sure but that at last count he was a raol or so ahead of me. 
He knows the Blue Eyed Drover and the Black Cow. He can do the Brandy 
Snifter with the best of them, and he isn’t bashful with the Snake Doctor. 
He does a neat variation of the Bottom of the Barrel. He can work the 
Yellow Glove and the Glastonburry Giveaway. And he seems affable and 
urbane. But is he?” 

He meant, not was he affable and urbane (he was), but — is he a 
Wreck? Ah, that was the question. 

“How can you even ask?” said Kate. 

So they were married and began one of the famous love affairs of the 
century. It went on for four years and each day brought new high 

adventure. They purged for the good of his soul a Dayton industrialist of 
an excessive sum of cash and thus restored his proper sense of values and 
taught him that money isn’t everything. They toured the world in 
gracious fashion and took no more than their ample due for their 
comfortable maintenance. They relaxed the grip of tight-fisted 
Frenchmen and retaught them the stern virtues of poverty. They enforced 
an austere regime of abstinence and hard work on heretofore over- 
wealthy and over-weight German burghers and possibly restored their 
health and prolonged their lives. They had special stainless steel buckets 
made to bury their money in, and these they scattered in many countries 
and several continents. And they had as much fun as it is allowed mortals 
to have. 

One pleasant afternoon Mazuma O’Shaunessey was in jail in a little 
town in Scotland. The jailer was gloomy and suspicious and not given to 

“No tricks from you now. I will not be taken.” 

“Just one to show I have the power. Stand back so I can’t reach you.” 

“I’m not likely to let you.” 

“And hold up a pound note in one hand as tightly as you can. I will 
only flick my handkerchief and the note will be in my hand and no longer 
in yours.” 

“Man I defy you. You cannot do it.” 

He held the note very tightly and closed his eyes with the effort. 
Mazuma flicked his handkerchief, but the Scotsman was right. He could 
not do it. This was the only time that Mazuma ever failed. Though the 
world quivered on its axis (and it did) yet the note was held so tightly that 
no power could dislodge it. But when the world quivered on its axis the 
effect was that Mazuma was now standing outside the cell and the 
Scotsman was within. And when the Chief came some minutes later 
Mazuma was gone and the Scotch jailer stood locked in the cell, his eyes 
still closed and the pound note yet held aloft in a grip of steel. So he was 
fired, or cashiered as the Old Worlders call it, for taking a bribe and 
letting a prisoner escape. And this is what usually comes as punishment 
to overly suspicious persons. 

Katie still used the Inverted Pyramid and very effectively Mazuma did 
not really have an unfailing talent for picking winners. He’d only said that 
to get Kate to marry him, and it was the best he he ever told. But he did 

have an infallible talent for many things, and they thrived. 

The first little cloud in the sky came once when they passed a 
plowman in a field in the fat land of Belgium. 

“Ah, there is a happy man,” said Mazuma. “Happy at work.” 

“Happy at work? o my God, what did you say? What kind of words are 
these, my husband?” 

But in the months and years that followed, this frightening incident 
was forgotten. 

The couple became the pride of Wreckville when they returned as they 
did several times a year and told their stories. Like the time the state 
troopers ran them down and cornered them with drawn guns. 

“o, we don’t want to take you in. We’ll report that we couldn’t catch 
you. Only tell us how you do it. We don’t want to be troopers all our 

And the time they ran a little house in Faro Town itself. It was a small 
upstairs place and Katie played the piano, and they had only one 
bartender, a faded little blonde girl with a cast in one eye, and only one 
table where Mazuma presided. And this where all the other Casinos were 
palaces that would make Buckingham look like a chicken coop. 

And the funny thing is that they took in no money at all. The barmaid 
would always say all drinks were ten dollars, or failing that they were on 
the house; as they used no coin and had trays in the register for only tens, 
fifties, hundreds and thousands. It was too much trouble to do business 
any other way. 

Katie would bait her money jar with several hundred dollar bills and 
one or two larger, and demurely refuse anything smaller for selections as 
she didn’t want the jar filled up with wrapping paper. So she would tinkle 
along all night and all drinks were on the house, which was not too many 
as only three could sit at the bar at once. 

And Mazuma never shook or dealt a game. He had only blue chips as 
he said any other color hurt his eyes. And no matter what the price of the 
chips, it was legendary and gained zeros as it was retold. 

Several of the larger sports came up the stairs out of curiositv. And 
their feelings were hurt when they were told they were too little to play, 
for they weren’t little at all. So Mazuma sat all night Monday through 
Friday and never cut a hand or shook a bone. 

Then on Saturday night the really big boys came upstairs to see what 

it was about. They were the owners of the nine big Casinos in town, and 
six of these gentlemen had to sit on boxes. Their aggregate worth would 
total out a dollar and thirteen cents to every inhabitant of the U.S. 

Katie tinkled tunes all night for a hundred to five hundred dollars a 
selection, and Mazuma dealt on the little table. And when the sun came 
up they owned a share of all nine of the big Casinos, and had acquired 
other assets besides. 

Of course these stories of Katie and Mazurna were topped, as about 
half the Wrecks went on the road, and they had some fancy narrations 
when they got back to Wreckville. 

And then the bottom fell out of the world. 

They had three beautiful children now. The oldest was three years old 
and he could already shake, deal, shuffle, and eon with the best of them. 
He knew the Golden Gambit and the Four Quarters and the Nine Dollar 
Dog and Three Fish Out. And every evening he came in with a marble bag 
full of half dollars and quarters that he had taken from the children in the 
neighborhood. The middle child was two, but already she could calculate 
odds like lightning, and she picked track winners in her dreams. She ran 
sucker ads in the papers and had set up a remunerative mail-order 
business. The youngest was only one and could not yet talk. But he 
carried chalk and a slate and marked up odds and made book, and was 
really quite successful in a small way. He knew the Four Diamond trick 
and the Two Story Chicken Coop, the Thimbling Reverse and the Canal 
Boat Cut. They were intelligent children and theirs was a happy home. 

One day Mazuma said, “We ought to get out of it, Kate.” 

“Out of what?” 

“Get out of the business. Raise the children in a more wholesome 
atmosphere. Buy a farm and settle down.” 

“You mean the Blue Valley Farmer trick? Is it old enough to be new 
yet? And it takes nearly three weeks to set it up, and it never did pay too 
well for all the trouble.” 

“No, I do not mean the Blue Valley Farmer trick. I don’t mean any 
trick, swindle, or con. I think we should get out of the whole grind and go 
to work like honest people.” 

And when she heard these terrible words Katie fell into a dead faint. 

That is all of it. He was not a Wreck. He was a common trickster and 
he had caught the sickness of repentance. The bottom had fallen out of 

the world indeed. The three unsolvable problems of the Greeks were 
squaring the circle, trisecting the angle, and re-bottoming the world. They 
cannot be done. 

They have been separated for many years. The three children were 
reared by their father under the recension and curse of Adam. One is a 
professor of mathematics, but I doubt if he can figure odds as rapidly as 
he could when he was one year old. The middle one is now a grand lady, 
but she has lost the facility of picking track winners in her dreams and 
much else that made her charming. And the oldest one is a senator from a 
state that I despise. 

And Katie is now the wisest old witch in Wreckville. But she has never 
quite been forgiven her youthful indiscretion when she married an 
Adamite who felt like his ancient father and deigned to work for a living. 



“I always said we’d find one of them that was fun remarked Brian. 
“There’s been entirely too much solemnity in the universe. Did you never 
panic on thinking of the multiplicity of systems?” 

“Never,” said Georgina. 

“Not even when, having set down a fine probability for the totality of 
worlds, you realized suddenly that you had to raise it by a dozen powers 

“What’s to panic?” 

“Not even when it comes over you, ‘This isn’t a joke; this is serious; 
every one of them is serious’?” 

“‘Cosmic intimidation,’ Belloc called it And it does tend to minimize a 

“And did you never hope that out of all that prodigality of worlds, one 
at least should have been made for fun? One should have been made by a 
wild child or a mixed-up goblin just to put the rest of them in proper 
perspective, to deflate the pomposity of the cosmos.” 

“You believe this is it, Mr. Carroll?” 

“Yes. Bellota was made for fun. It is a joke, a caricature, a burlesque. It 
is a planet with baggy pants and a putty nose. It is a midget world with 
floppy shoes and a bull-roarer voice. It was designed to keep the cosmos 
from taking itself too seriously. The law of levity here conspires against 
the law of gravity.” 

“I never heard of the law of levity. And Mr. Phelan believes that he will 
soon have the explanation for the peculiar gravity here.” 

“The law of levity does not apply to you, Georgina. You are immune. 
But I spoke lightly.” 

The theory that Bellota was made for a joke had not been proved; no 
more than the other theories about it. But it was a sport, a whole barrelful 
of puzzles, a place of interest all out of proportion to its size, eminently 
worthy of study. And the six of them had been set down there to study it. 

Sociability impels — and besides they weren’t a bad bunch at all. Meet 
them now, or miss them forever. They were six. 

1 . John Hardy. Commander and commando. As capable a man as ever 
lived. A good-natured conglomerate of clanking iron who was always in 
control. A jack of all techniques, a dynamic optimist. He had the only 

laugh that never irritated, however often heard, and he handled danger 
cavalierly. He was a blue-eyed, red-headed giant, and his face was redder 
than his hair. 

2. William Malaquais (Uncle Billy) Cross. Engineer, machinist 
extraordinary, gadgeteer, theorist, arguefier, first mate, navigator, and 
balladeer. Billy was a little older than the rest of them, but he hadn’t 
mellowed. He said that he was still a green and growing boy. 

3. Daniel Phelan. Geologist and cosmologist, and holder of heretical 
doctrines about field forces. “Phelan’s Corollary” may be known to you; 
and, if so, you must be both intrigued and frustrated by the inherent 
contradictions that prevented its acceptance. A highly professional man 
in the domain of magnetism and gravity, he was so a low amateur rake 
and a determined wolf. A dude. Yet he could carry his share of the load. 

4. Margaret Cot. Artist and photographer, botanist and bacteriologist. 
Full of chatter and a sort of charm. Better looking than anyone deserves 
to be. Salty, really the newest thing in salinity. A little bit wanton. And a 
little kiddish. 

5. Brian Carroll. Naturalist. And natural. He had been hunting for 
something all his life, but did not know what it was, and was not sure that 
be would know it when he found it, but he hoped that it would be 

“o Lord,” he would pray, “however it ends don’t let it have a pat 
ending. That I couldn’t stand.” He believed that anything repeated was 
trite. And it was for that reason that there were pleasant surprises for him 
on Bellota. 

6. Georgina Chantal. Biologist and iceberg. But the capsule 
description may be unjust. For she was more than biologist and much 
more than iceberg. Frosty only when frostiness was called for, she was 
always proper and often friendly. But she was no Margie Cot, and in 
contrast perhaps she was a little icy. 

Actually there wasn’t a bad apple in that basket. 

The most obvious peculiarity of Bellota was its gravity, which was half 
that of Earth’s, though the circumference of the globe was no more than a 
hundred miles. It was on account of this peculiarity that Daniel Phelan 
was on the little planet in the first place. For it was held by those who 
decide such things that there was a bare chance that he could find the 
answer: no one else had found it. His own idea was that his presence 

there was fruitless: he already had the answer to the gravity behavior of 
Beilota; it was contained in Phelan’s Corollary. Bellota was the only body 
that behaved as it should. It was the rest of the universe that was atypical. 

And in other ways Bellota was a joker. Fruits proved noisome and 
thorns succulent. Rinds and shells were edible and heartmeat was not. 
Proto-butterflies stung like hornets and lizards secreted honeylike 
manna. And the water — the water was soda water — sheer carbonated 
soda water. 

If you wanted it any other way, you caught rain water, and this was so 
highly nitric that drinking it was something of an experience also; for the 
thunderstorms there were excessive. 

No, they were not excessive, claimed Phelan, they were normal. It was 
on all other atmospheric planets known that there was a strange 
deficiency of thundershowers. 

Here, at least, there was no deficiency: it rained about five minutes 
out of every fifteen, and the multi-colored lightning was omnipresent. In 
all their stay there, the party was never without the sound of thunder, 
near or distant, nor of the probe of lightning. For this reason there could 
be no true darkness there, not even between the flashes; there were 
flashes between the flashes. Here was meteorology concentrated, without 
dilution, without filler. 

“But it is always different,” said Georgina. “Every lightning flash is 
enfirely different, just as every snowflake is different. Will it snow here?” 

“Certainly,” said Phelan. “Though it did not last night, it should 
tonight. Snow before midnight and fog by morning. After all, midnight 
and morning are only an hour apart.” 

At that time they had been on the planet only a few hours. 

“And here the cycle is normal,” said Phelan. “It is normal nowhere 
else. It is natural for humans and all other creatures to sleep for two 
hours and to wake for two hours. That is the fundamental cycle. Much of 
our misbehavior and perversity comes from trying to adapt to the weird 
day-night cycle of whatever alien world we happened to be born on. Here 
within a week we will return to that normal that we never knew before.” 

“Within what kind of week?” asked Hardy. 

“Within Bellota’s twenty-eight-hour week. And do you realize that the 
projected working week here would be just six and two-thirds hours? I 
always thought that that was long enough to work anyhow.” 

There were no seas there, only the soda-water lakes that covered a 
third of the area. And there were flora and fauna that burlesqued more 
than they really resembled Earth’s and kindred worlds. 

The trees were neither deciduous nor evergreen (though Brian Carroll 
said that they were ever-green), nor palm. They were trees as a cartoonist 
might draw them. And there were animals that made the whole idea of 
animals ridiculous. 

And there was Snuffles. 

Snuffles was a bear - possibly — and of sorts. The bear is himself a 
caricature of animalkind, somehow a giant dog, somehow a shaggy man, 
an ogre, and also a toy. And Snuffles was a caricature of a bear. 

Billy Cross tried to explain to them about bears. Billy was an old bear 

“It is the only animal that children dream of without having seen or 
been told about. Moncrief by his recall methods has studied thousands of 
early childhood dreams. Children universally dream of bears, Tahitian 
children subject to no ursine influence in themselves or their ancestry, 
Australian children, town tikes before they ever saw a bear toy. They 
dream of bears. The bear is the boogerman. Bears live in the attics of old 
childhood houses. They did in my own and in thousands of others. Their 
existence there is not of adult suggestion, but of innate childhood 

“But there is a duality about this boogerman. He is friendly and 
fascinating as well as frightening. The boogerman is not a story that 
adults tell to children. It is the only story that children tell to adults who 
have forgotten it.” 

‘But how could you know?” asked Margie Cot. “I had no idea that little 
boys dreamed of bears. I thought that only girls did. And with us I had 
come to believe that the bear dreams symbolized grown man in his 
fundamental aspect, both fascinating and frightening.” 

“To you, Marie, everything symbolizes grown man in his fundamental 
aspect. Now the boogerman is also philologically interesting, being 
actually one of the less than two hundred Indo-European root words. 
Though Bog has come to mean God in the Slavic, yet the booger was 
earlier an animal-man demiurge, and the Sanshrit bhaga is not without 
this meaning. In the sense of a breaker, a smasher, it is in the Old Irish as 
bong, and the early Lithuanian as banga. In the sense of a devourer, it 

survives in the Greek root phag, and as one who puts to flight it is in the 
Latin fug. We have, of course, the Welsh bwg, a ghost, and bogey has 
been used in the meaning of the devil. And we have bugbear, which 
rounds out the circuit.” 

“So you make God and the Bear and the Devil one,” said Georgina. 

“In many mythologies it was the bear who made the world,” said John 
Hardy. “After that he did nothing distinguished. It was felt by his 
devotees that he had done enough.” 

Snuffles was not a bear exactly. He was a pseudoursine. He was big 
and clumsy, and bounced around on four legs, and then up on two. He 
was friendly, chillingly so, for he was huge. And he snuffled like some old 
track-eating train. 

He was a clown, but he seemed to observe the line that the visitors 
drew. He did not come really close, though often too close for comfort. He 
obeyed, or when he did not wish to obey, he pretended to misunderstand, 
He was the largest animal on Bellota, and there seemed to be only one of 

“Why do we call him he?” asked Brian Carroll, the naturalist. “Only 
surgery could tell for sure, but it appears that Snuffles has no sex at all. 
There is no way I know of that he could reproduce. No wonder there is 
only one of him; the wonder is that there should be any at all. Where did 
he come from?” 

“That could be asked of any creature,” said Daniel Phelan. “The 
question is, where is he going? But he shows a certain sophistication in 
this. For it is only with primitives that toy animals (and he is a toy, you 
know) are sexed. A modern teddy bear or a toy panda isn’t. Nor were the 
toys in the European tradition except on the fringes (Tartary before the 
ninth century, Ireland before the fifth) since pre-classical times. But 
before those times in its regions, and beyond its pale even to-day, the toy 
animals are totems and are sexed, exaggeratedly so.” 

“Yes, there is no doubt about it,” said Brian. “He does not have even 
the secondary characteristics of mammal, marsupial, or what you will. 
But he has characteristics enough of his own. 

Snuffles was, among other things, a mimic. Should a book he left 
around, and they were a bookish bunch, he would take it in his forepaws 
and hold it as to read, and turn the pages, turning them singly and 
carefully. He could use his padded paws as hands. His claws were 

retractable and his digits projective. They were paws, or they were claws, 
or they were hands and he had four of them. 

He unscrewed caps and he could use a can opener He kept the visitors 
in firewood, once he understood that they had need of it, and that they 
wanted dry sticks of a certain size. He’d bite the sticks to length, stack 
them in small ricks, bind them with lianas, and carry them to the fire. 
He’d fetch water and put it on to boil. And he gathered bellotas by the 

Bellota means an acorn, and they had named the planet that from the 
profusion of edible fruit-nuts that looked very like the acorn. These were 
a delicacy that became a staple. 

And Snuffles could talk. All his noises were not alike. There was the 
“snokle, snoke, snokle” that meant he was in a good humor, as he 
normally was. There was a “snook, snook” and a “snoff.” There were 
others similar in vocables but widely varied in tone and timbre. Perhaps 
Billy Cross understood him best, but they all understood him a little. 

In only one thing did Snuffles become stubborn. He marked off a 
space, a wild old pile of rocks, and forbade them to enter its circle. He dug 
a trench around it and he roared and bared foot-long fangs if any dared 
cross the trench. Billy Cross said that Snuffles did this to save face; for 
Commander John Hardy had previously forbidden Snuffles a certain 
area, their supply dump and weapons center. Hardy had drawn a line 
around it with a mattock and made it clear that Snuffles should never 
cross that line. The creature understood at once, and he went and did 

The party had been set down there for two Earth weeks — twelve 
Bellota weeks — to study the life of the planetoid, to classify, to take 
samples, tests, notes, and pictures; to hypothesize and to build a basis for 
theory. But they ventured hardly at all from their original camp site. 
There was such an amazing variety of detail at hand that it would take 
many weeks even to begin to classify it. 

A feature there was the rapidity of enzyme and bacterial action. A 
good wine could be produced in four hours, and a fungus-cheese made 
from grub exudations in even less time. And in the new atmosphere 
thoughts also seemed to ferment rapidly. 

“Every person makes one major mistake in his life,” said John Hardy 
to them once. “Were it not for that, he would not have to die.” 

“What?” quizzed Phelan. “Few die violently nowadays. How could all 
die for a mistake?” 

“Yet it’s a fact. Deaths are not really explained, for all the explanations 
of medicine. A death will be the result of one single much earlier 
rashness, of one weakening of the mind or body, or a crippling of the 
regenerative force. A person will be alive and vital. And one day he will 
make one mistake. In that moment the person begins to die. But if a man 
did not make that one mistake, he would not die.” 

“Poppycock,” said Daniel Phelan. 

“I wonder if you know the true meaning of ‘poppycock’?” asked Billy 
Cross. “It is poppy-talk, opium-talk, rambling of one under the narcotic. 
Now the element ‘cock’ in the word is not (as you would imagine) from 
either the Norwegian kok, a dung heap, nor from coquarde in the sense 
that Rabelais uses it, but rather from — ” 

“Poppycock,” said Phelan again. He disliked Billy Cross’s practice of 
analyzing all words, and he denied his assertion that a man who uses a 
word without feeling its full value is a dealer in false coinage, in fact a liar. 

“But if a person dies only by making a mistake, how does an animal 
die?” asked Margie Cot. “Does he also make a mistake?” 

“He makes the mistake of being an animal and not a man,” said 

“There may be no clear line between animal and man,” Margie argued. 

“There is,” said Phelan, and three others agreed. 

“There is not,” said Billy Cross 

“An animal is paradoxically a creature without an anima — without a 
soul,” said Phelan. “This comes oddly from me because I also deny it to 
man in its usual connotation. But there is a total difference, a line that the 
animal cannot cross, and did not cross. When we arrive at wherever we 
are going, he will still be skulking in his den.” 

“Here, at least, it is the opposite of that,” said Brian Carroll. “Snuffles 
sleeps in the open, and it is we who den.” 

It was true. Around their campsite, their supply dump and weapons 
center, there were three blind pockets; grottoes hack in the rocks. Billy 
Cross, Daniel Phelan and Margie Cot each had one of these, filled with the 
tools of their specialties. Here they worked and slept. And these were 

John Hardy himself slept in the weapons center, inside the circle 

where Snuffles was forbidden. And the hours that he did not sleep he kept 
guard. Hardy made a fetish of security. When he slept, or briefly 
wandered about the region, someone else must always take a turn at 
guard, weapon at hand. There was no relaxation of this, no exception, no 
chance of a mistake. 

And Snuffles, the animal, who slept right out in the open (“Is it 
possible,” Brian asked himself, “that I am the only one who notices it? Is 
it possible that it happens?”) did not get wet. It rained everywhere on that 
world. But it did not rain on Snuffles. 

“The joy of this place is that it is not pat,” said Brian Carroll. As 
previously noted, he hated anything that was pat. “We could be here for 
years and never see the end of the variety. With the insects there may be 
as many species as there are individuals. Each one could almost be 
regarded as a sport, as if there were no standard to go by. The gravity 
here is cock-eyed. Please don’t analyze the word, Billy; I doubt myself 
that it means rooster-eyed. The chemistry gives one a hopeful feeling. It 
uses the same building blocks as the chemistry elsewhere, but it is as if 
each of those blocks were just a little off. The lightning is excessive, as 
though whoever was using it had not yet tired of the novelty; I never tired 
of the novelty of lightning myself. And when this place ends, it will not 
have a pat ending. Other globes may turn to lava or cold cinders. Bellota 
will pop like a soap bubble, or sag like spaghetti, or turn into an exploding 
world of grasshoppers. But it won’t conform. I love Bellota. And I do hate 
a pat ending.” 

“There is an old precept of ‘Know thyself,’“ said Georgina Chantal. 
They talked a lot now, as they were often wakeful, not yet being 
accustomed to the short days and nights of Bellota. “Its variant is ‘Look 
within.’ Look within, but our eyes point outward! The only way we can 
see our faces is in a mirror or in a picture. Each of us has his mirror, and 
mine is more often the microscope. But we cannot see ourselves as we are 
until we see ourselves distorted. That is why Snuffles is also a mirror for 
all of us here. We can’t understand why we’re serious until we know why 
he’s funny.” 

“We may be the distortion and he the true image,” said Billy Cross. 
“He lacks jealousy and pomposity and greed and treachery — all the 

“We do not know that he lacks them,” said Daniel Phelan. 

So they talked away the short days and nights on Bellota, and 
accumulated data. 


When it happened, it happened right in narrow daylight. The phrase 
was Brian’s, who hated a pat phrase. It happened right in the middle of 
the narrow two-hour Bellota day. 

All were awake and aware. John Hardy stood in the middle of the 
weapons center on alert guard with that rifle cradled in the crook of his 
arm. Billy and Daniel and Margaret were at work in their respective dens; 
and Brian and Georgina, who did not den, were gathering in-sects at the 
open lower end of the valley, but they had the center in their sight. 

There was an unusual flash of lightning, bright by even Bellota 
standards, and air snapped and crackled. And there was an unusual 
sound from Snufiles, far removed from his usual “snokle, snokle” talk. 

And in a moment benignity seemed to drain away from that planet. 

Snuffles had before made as if to cross the line, and then scooted off, 
chortling in glee, which is perhaps why the careful John Hardy was not at 
first alarmed. Then Snuffles charged with a terrifying sound. 

But Hardy was not tricked entirely; it would be impossible for man or 
beast to trick him entirely. He had a split second, and was not one to 
waste time making a decision; and he was incapable of panic. What he 
did, he did of choice. And if it was a mistake, why, even the shrewdest 
decision goes into the books as a mistake if it fails. 

He was fond of Snuffles and he gambled that it would not be 
necessary to kill him. It was a heavy rifle; a shoulder shot should have 
turned the animal. If it did not, there would not be time for another shot. 

It did not, though, and there was not. Commander John Hardy made 
one mistake and for that he died. He died uncommonly, and he did not 
die from the inside out, as meaner men do. 

It was ghastly, but it was over in an instant. Hardy’s head was 
smashed and his face nearly swiped off. His back was broken and his 
body almost sheared in two. The great creature, with the foot-long 
canines and claws like twenty long knives, mangled him and crushed him 
and shook him like a red mop, and then let go. 

It may be that Brian Carroll realized most quickly the implications. He 
called to Georgina to come out of the valley onto the plain below, and to 
come out fast. He realized that the other three still alive would not even 
be able to come out. 

Incongruously, a thing that went through Brian Carroll’s mind was a 

tirade of an ancient Confederate general against ancient General Grant, 
to the effect that the blundering fool had moved into a position that 
commanded both river and hill and blocked three valley mouths, and it 
could only be hoped that Grant would move along before he realized his 

But Brian was under no such delusion. Snuffles realized his 
advantage; he occupied the supply dump and weapons center, and 
commanded the entrances to the three blind pockets that were the dens 
of Billy Cross and Daniel Phelan and Margie Cot. 

With one move, Snuffles had killed the leader, cornered three of the 
others, and cut off the remaining two from base weapons, to be hunted 
down later. There was nothing unintentional about it. Had he chosen 
another moment, when another than John Hardy was on guard, then 
Hardy alive would still somehow have been a threat to him, even 
weaponless. But, with Hardy dead, all the rest were no match for the 

Brian and Georgina lingered on the edge of the plain to watch the 
other three, though they knew that their own lives depended on getting 
out of there. 

“Two could get away,” said Georgina, “if a third would make a rush for 
it and force Snuffles into another charge.” 

“But none of them will,” said Brian. “The third would die.” 

It was a game, but it couldn’t last long. Phelan whimpered and tried to 
climb the rock wall at the blind end of his pocket. Margie cajoled and told 
Snuffles how good friends they had always been, and wouldn’t he let her 
go? Billy Cross filled his pipe and lit it and sat down to wait it out. 

Phelan went first, and he died like a craven. But no one, not sure how 
he himself might die, should hold that overly against a man. 

Snuffles thundered in, cut him down in the middle of a scream, and 
rushed back to his commanding spot in the middle of the weapons center. 

Margie spread out her hands and began to cry, softly, not really in 
terror, when he attacked. The pseudo-bear broke her neck, but with a 
blow that was almost gentle in comparison with the others, and he 
scurried again to center. 

And Billy Cross puffed on his pipe. “I hate to go like this, Snuff, old 
boy. In fact, I hate to go at all. If I made a mistake to die for, it was in 
being such a pleasant, trusting fellow. I wonder if you ever noticed, Snuff, 

what a fine, upstanding fellow I really am?” 

And that was the last thing Billy Cross ever said, for the big animal 
struck him dead with one tearing blow. And the smoke still drifted in the 
air from Billy’s pipe. 

Then it was like black thunder coming out of the valley after the other 
two, for that clumsy animal could move. They had a start on him, Brian 
and Georgina had, of a hundred yards. And soon their terror subsided to 
hall-terror as they realized that the shoulder-shot bear animal could not 
catch them till they were exhausted. 

In a wild run, they could even increase their lead over him. But they 
would tire soon and they did not know when he would tire. He had 
herded them away from the campsite and the weapons. And they were 
trapped with him on a small planet. 

Till day’s end, and through the night, and next day (maybe five hours 
in all) he followed them, until they could hardly keep going. Then they 
lost him, but in the dark did not know if he was close or not. And at dawn 
they saw him sitting up and watching them from quarter of a mile away. 

But now the adversaries rested and watched. The animal may have 
stiffened up from his shot. The two humans were so weary that they did 
not intend to run again till the last moment. 

“Do you think there is any chance that it was all a sudden fury and 
that he may become friendly again.” 

Georgina asked Brian. 

“It was not a sudden fury. It was a series of very calculated moves.” 

“Do you think we could skirt around and beat him back to the 
weapons center?” 

“No. He has chosen a spot where he can see for miles. And he has the 
interceptor’s advantage — any angle we take has to be longer than his. We 
can’t beat him back and he knows it.” 

“Do you think he knows that the weapons are weapons?” 


“And that all our signal equipment is left at the center and that we 
can’t communicate?” 


“Do you think he’s smarter than we are?” 

“He was smarter in selecting his role. It is better to be the hunter than 
the hunted. But it isn’t unheard of for the hunted to outsmart the hunter.” 

“Brian, do you think you would have died as badly as Daniel or as well 
as Billy?” 

“No. No to both.” 

“I was always jealous of Margie, but I loved her at he end. She didn’t 
scream. She didn’t act scared. Brian, what will happen to us now?” 

“Possibly we will be saved in the nick of time by the Marines.” 

“I didn’t know they had them any more. Oh, you mean the ship. But 
that’s still a week away, Earth time. Do you think Snuffles knows it is to 
come back for us?’ 

“Yes, he knows. I’m sure of that” 

“Do you think be knows when it will come?” 

“Yes, I have the feeling that he knows that too.” 

“But will he be able to catch us before then?” 

“I believe that all parties concerned will play out the contest with one 
eye on the clock.” 

Snuffles had now developed a trick. At sundown of the short day, he 
would give a roar and come at them. And they would have to start their 
flight just as the dark commenced. They ran more noisily than he and he 
would always be able to follow them; but they could never be sure in the 
dark that he was foilowing, or how closely. They would have to go at top 
panting, gasping, thumping speed for an hour and a half; then they would 
ease off for a little in the half hour before dawn. And in the daytime one of 
them had to watch while the other slept. But Snuffles could sleep as he 
would, and they were never able to slip away without his waking 

Moreover, he seemed to herd them through the fertile belt in their 
night runs and let them rest on the barrens in the daytime. It wasn’t that 
food was really scarce; it was that it could only be gethered during time 
taken from flight and sleep and guard duty. 

They also came on a quantity of red fruit that had a weakening and 
dizzying effect on them, yet they could hardly leave it alone. There was a 
sort of bean sprout that had the same effect, and a nut, and a cereal grass 
whose seed they winnowed with their hands as they went along. 

“This is a narcotic belt,” said Brian. “I wish we had the time to study it 
longer, and yet we may get all too much of studying it. We have no idea 
how far it goes, and this method of testing its products on ourselves may 
be an effective one, but dangerous.” 

From that time on, they were under the influence of the narcotics. 
They dreamed vividly while awake and walking. And they began to suffer 
hallucinations which they could not distinguish from reality. 

It was only a Bellota day or so after their dreaming began that Brian 
Carroll felt that the mind of Snuffles was speaking to him. Carroll was an 
intelligent amateur in that field and he put it to the tests; there are valid 
tests for it. And he concluded that it was hallucination and not telepathy. 
Still (and he could see it coming) there would be a time when he would 
accept his hallucination and believe that the ursine was talking to him. 
And that would signal that he was crazy and no longer able to evade death 

Carroll renounced (while he still had his wits) his future belief in the 
nonsense, just as a man put to torture may renounce anything he 
concedes or confesses or denies under duress. 

Yet, whatever frame it was placed in, Snuffles talked to him from a 
distance. “Why do you think me a bear, because I am in a bear skin? I do 
not think you a mam though you are in a man skin. You may be a little 
less. And why do you believe you will die more bravely than Daniel? The 
longer you run, the meaner will be your death. And you still do not know 
who I am?” 

“No,” said Brian Carroll aloud. 

“No what?” asked Georgina Chantal. 

“It seems that the bear is talking to me, that he has entered my mind.” 

“Me also. Could it be, or is it the narcotic fruit?” 

“It couldn’t be. It is hallucination brought on by the narcotics, and 
tiredness from travel, and lack of sleep — and our shock at seeing our 
friends killed by a boy turned into a monster. There are tests to 
distinguish telepathic reception from hallucination: objective 
corroboration, impossible at this time (with Snuffles in his present mood) 
and probably impossible at any time; sentient parallelism — surely 
uncertain, for I have more in common with millions of humans than with 
one pseudo-ursine; circumstantial validity and point-for-point clarity — 
this is negative, for I know myself to be fevered and confused and my 
senses unreliable in other matters. By every test that can be made, the 
indication is that it is not telepathy, that it is hallucination.” 

“But there isn’t any way to be sure, is there, Brian?” 

“None, Georgina; no more than I can prove that it is not a troup of 

Boy Scouts around a campfire that is causing pain and burning in my 
gullet, that it is really the narcotic fruit or something else I have eaten 
conspiring with my weariness and apprehension to discomfort me. I 
cannot prove it is not Boy Scouts and I cannot prove it is not telepathy, 
but I consider both unlikely.” 

“I don’t think it is unlikely at all, Brian. I think that Snuffles is talking 
to me. When you get a little nuttier and tireder, then you’ll believe it too.” 

“Oh, yes, I’ll believe it then — but it won’t be true.” 

It won’t matter if it’s true or not. Snuffles will have gained his point. 
Do you know that Snuffles is king of this world?” 

“No. What are you talking about?” 

“He just told me he was. He told me that if I would help him catch 
you, he would let me go. But I won’t do it. I have become fond of you, 
Brian. Did you know I never did like men before?” 

“Yes. You were called the iceberg.” 

“But now I like you very much.” 

“You have no one else left to like.” 

“It isn’t that. It’s the mood I’m in. And I won’t help Snuffles catch you 
unless he gives me very much better reasons for it.” 

Damn the girl! If she believed Snuffles talked to her, then for all 
practical purposes he did. And, however the idea of a trade for her life 
had been implanted in her mind, it would grow there. 

Now Snuffles talked to Brian Carroll again, and it was somehow a 
waste of time to intone the formality that it was hallucination only. 

“You still do not know what I am, but you will have to learn it before 
you die. Hardy knew it at the last minute. Cross guessed it from the first. 
Phelan still isn’t sure. He goes about and looks back at his body lying 
there, and he still isn’t sure. Some people are very hard to convince. But 
the girl knew it and she spread out her hands.” 

In his fever, that was the way the bear animal talked to him. 

They ate leaves now and buds. They would have no more of the 
narcotic fruits even if they had to starve. But narcosis left them slowly, 
and the pursuit of them tightened. 

It was just at sunset one day that disaster struck at Brian. The bear 
had nearly hypnotized him into immobility, talking inside his head. 
Georgina had started on before him and repeatedly called for him to 
follow but for some reason he loitered. When Snuffles made his sudden 

sundown charge, there seemed no escape for him. Brian was trapped on a 
rimrock. Georgina had already taken a winding path to the plain below. 
Brian hesitated, then held his ground for the bruin’s charge. He believed 
that he could draw Snuffles on, and them break to the left or the right at 
the last instant, and perhaps the animal would plunge over the cliff. 

But old Snuff modified but did not halt his charge the last minute. He 
came in bottom-side first, like an elephant sliding bases, and he knocked 
Brian off the cliff. 

There are few really subjective accounts of dying, since most who die 
do not live to tell about it. But the way it goes is this: 

First one hangs in space; then he is charged by the madly rising 
ground armed with trees and rocks and weapons. After that is a painful 
sleep, and much later dazed wakening. 


He was traveling upside-down, that was sure, and roughly, though at a 
slow rate of speed. Perhaps that is the normal way for people to travel 
after they are dead. He was hung from the middle in an odd doubled-up 
manner, and seemed supported and borne along by something of a 
boatlike motion, yet of a certain resilience and strength that was more 
living than even a boat. It had a rough softness, this thing, and a pleasant 

But, though it was bright morning now, it was hard to get a good look 
at the thing with which he was in contact. All he could see was grass 
flowing slowly by, and heels. 


What was this all about? Heels and backs of calves, no more. 

He was being carried, carried slung like a sack over her shoulder by 
Georgina. For the thing of the pleasant fragrance was Georgina Chantal. 

She set him down then. It was a very rough valley were in, and he saw 
that they had traveled perhaps four miles from the base of the rimrock; 
and Snuffles had settled down in the morning light a quarter of a mile 
behind them. 

“Georgina, did you carry me all night?” 


“How could you?” 

“I changed shoulders sometimes. And you aren’t very heavy. This is 
only a half-gravity planet. Besides, I’m very strong. I could have carried 

you even on Earth.” 

“Why wasn’t I killed by the fall?” 

“Snuffles says he isn’t ready to kill you yet, that he could kill you any 
time he wanted to with the lightning or rock or poison berry. But you did 
hit terribly hard. I was surprised to be able to pick you up in one piece. 
And now Snuffles says that I have lost my last chance.” 


“Because I carried you away from him before he could get down the 
cliff in the dark. Now he says he will kill me too.” 

“Snuff is inconsistent. If he could kill me any instant with the 
lightning, why would he be angered if yow carried me away from him?” 

“I thought of that too. But he says he has his own reasons. And that 
lightning — do you know that it doesn’t lighten all the time everywhere on 
Bellota? Only in a big circle around Snuffles, as a tribute to him. I’ve 
noticed myself that when we get a big lead over him, we almost move 
clear out of the lightning sphere.” 

“Georgina, that animal doesn’t really talk to us. It is only our 
imaginations. It is not accurate to so personify it.” 

“It may not be accurate, but if that isn’t talk he puts out, then I don’t 
know talk. And a lot of his talk he makes comes true. But I don’t care if he 
does kill me for saving you. I’m silly over you now.” 

“We are both of us silly, Georgina, from the condition we are in. But 
he can’t talk to us. He’s only an animal run amok. If it was anything else, 
it would mean that much of what we know is not so.” 

Brian had the full effect of it one sunny afternoon couple of Bellota 
days later. He was dozing and Georgina was on guard when Snuffles 
began to talk inside his head. 

“You insult me that you do not recognize my identity. When Hardy 
said that in many mythologies it was the Bear who made the world, he 
had begun to guess who I was. I am the creator and I made the world. I 
have heard that there are other worlds besides Bellota, and I am not sure 
whether I made them or not. But if they are there, I must have made 
them. They could not have made themselves. And this I did make. 

“It isn’t an easy thing, or all of you would have made them, and you 
have not. And there is pride in creation that you could not understand. 
You said that Bellota was made for fun. It was not made for fun. I am the 
only one who knows why it was made, for I made it. And it is not a little 

planet; it is a grand planet. I waited for you to confess your error and be 
amazed at it. Since you did not, you will have to die. I made you, so I can 
kill you if I like. I must have made you, since I made all. And if I did not, 
then I made other things, red squirrels and white birds. 

“You have no idea of the achievement itself. I had very little to work 
with and no model or plans or previous experience. And I made mistakes. 
I would be the last to deny that I miscalculated the gravity, a simple 
mathematical error that anyone could make. The planet is too small for 
the gravity, but I had already embodied the calculated gravity in other 
works that I did not choose to undo, and I had no material to make a 
larger planet. So what I have made I have made, and it will continue so. 
An error, once it is embodied, becomes a new truth. 

“You may wonder why my birds have hair. I will confess it, I did not 
know how to make feathers, nor would you without template or typus. 
And you are puzzled that my butterflies sting and my hornets do not? But 
how was I to know that those fearfully colored monsters should have been 
harmless? It ill befits one who has never made even the smallest — but 
why do I try to explain this to you? 

“You wonder if I am talking to you or if it is only a delusion of your 
mind. What is the difference? How could there be anything in your mind 
if I did not put it there? And do not be afraid of dying. Remember that 
nothing is lost. When I have the pieces of you, I will use them to make 
other things. That is the law of conservation of matter as I understand it. 

“But do you know that the one thing desired by all is really praise? It 
is the impelling force, and a creator needs this more than anyone. Things 
and beings are made to give praise, and if they do not, they are destroyed 
again. You had every opportunity to give it, and instead you jeered. 

“Did any of you ever make a world? I tell you that there are a million 
things to remember all at once. And there can be no such thing as a bad 
world, since each of them is a triumph. Whether it was that I made the 
others and I forgot them is only a premise; or whether I will make them 
in the future, and they are only now talked of out of their proper time. But 
some of your own mythologies indicate that I made your own. 

“I would tell you more, only you would not understand it. But after I 
have conserved your matter, then you will know all these things.” 

“Snuffles is cranky with me today,” said Georgina Chantal. “Is he also 
cranky with you?” 

“Yes,” said Brian Carroll. 

“He says that he made Bellota. Did he tell you that too? Do you believe 

“He told me. I do not believe it. We are delirious. Snuffles cannot 

“You keep saying that, but you aren’t sure. He told me that when he 
chews us up he will take a piece of me and a piece of you and chew them 
together and make a new thing, since we are belatedly taken with each 
other. Isn’t that nice?” 

“How cozy.” 

“I wonder why he made the grass so sharp, though. There is no reason 
for it to be like that.” 

“Why, and what?” 

“Snuffles. Why did he make the grass so sharp? My toes are nearly 
gone and it’s killing me.” 

“Georgina, hold onto what’s left of your mind. Snuffles did not make 
the grass or anything else. He is only an animal, and we are sick and 
walking in delirium.” So they walked on a while, for evening had come. 
Then the voice of Snuffles came again inside the head of Brian. 

“How was I to know that the grass should not be sharp? Are not all 
pointed things sharp? Who would have guessed that it should be soft? If 
you had told me gently, and without shaming me, I would have changed it 
at once. Now I will not. Let it wound you!” 

So they walked on a while, for evening had come. Then days and 

“Brian, do you think that Snuffles knows the world is round?” 

“If he made it, he must know it.” 

“Oh, yes, I had forgotten.” 

“Dammit, girl, I was being ironic! And you are now quite nutty, and I 
hardly less so. Of course he didn’t make it. And of course he doesn’t know 
that it’s round. He’s only an animal.” 

“Then we have an advantage back again.” 

“Yes. I’d noticed it before if I hadn’t been so confused. We are more 
than halfway around the little planet. He is no longer between us and our 
weapons center, but he behaves as though he thought he was. We have no 
more than forty miles to go to it. We will step up our pace, though 
gradually. Our old camp valley is prominent enough so that we could 

recognize it within several miles either way, and we can navigate that 
close. And if he seems to say in your mind that he is onto our trick, do not 
believe him. The animal does not really talk in our minds.” 

But their narcosis still increased. “It isn’t a narcotic belt,” said Brian. 
“It is a narcotic season on all Bellota - a built-in saturnalia. But we have 
not been able to enjoy the carnival.” 

“Snuffles shows up well as a carnival king, though, don’t you think? It 
is easier to believe in time of carnival that he made the cosmos. I went to 
the big carnival once in Nola when I was a little girl. There was a big bear 
wearing a crown on one of the floats, and I believe that he was king of the 
carnival. It wasn’t an ordinary bear. I am sure now that it represented 
Snuffles, though I was only six years old when I saw it. Do you think that 
Snuffles’ explanation of the law of gravity here is better than Phelan’s?” 

“More easily understandable at least than the corollary, and probably 
more honest. I always thought that the corollary also embraced a simple 
mathematical error and that Phelan stuck to it out or perversity.” 

“It is one thing to stick to an error. It is another to build a world to 
conform to it. Brian do you know what hour it is?” 

“It is the three hundred and twelfth since we were set down.” 

“And they return for us at the three hundred and thirty-sixth. We will 
be back at our campsite and in control by then, won’t we?” 

“If we are ever to make it back and be in control, we should make it by 
then. Are you tired, Georgina?” 

“No. I will never be tired again. I have been walking in a dream too 
long for that. But I never felt more pleasurable than now. I look down at 
my feet which are a sorry mess, but they don’t seem to be my feet. Only a 
little while ago I felt sorry for a girl in such a state, and then I came to half 
realize that the girl was me. But the realization didn’t carry a lot of 
conviction. It doesn’t seem like me.” 

“I feel disembodied myself. But I don’t believe that this comical old 
body that I observe will carry me much farther.” 

“Snuffles is trying to talk to us.” 

“Yes, I feel him. No, dammit, Georgina, we will not give in to that 
nonsense. Snuffles is only a wounded old bear that is trailing us. But our 
hallucination is coming again. It will take a lot of theory to cover a dual 

“Hush, I want to hear what he says.” 

Then Snuffles began to talk inside the heads of the two of them. 

“If you know and do not tell me, then you are guilty of a peculiar 
affront. A maker cannot remember everything, and I had forgotten some 
of the things that I had made before. But we are coming on a new world 
now that is very like Bellota. Can it be that I have only repeated myself, 
and that I did not improve each time? These hills here I made once 
before. If you know, then you must tell me now. It may be that I cannot 
wait to chew your brains to find out about it. How will I ever make a 
better world if I make them all alike?” 

“He has forgotten that he made it round, Brian.” 

“Georgina, he did not make anything. It is our own minds trying to 
reassure us that he does not know we are ahead of him and going toward 
our weapons.” 

“But how do we both hear the same thing if he isn’t talking to us?” 

“I don’t know. But I prefer it the way it is. I never did like easy 

Then there came the evening they were within sight of their original 
valley, and, if they moved at full speed through the night, they should 
reach their campsite very soon after dawn. 

“But the weariness is beginning to creep up through the narcosis,” 
said Brian. “Now I’m desiring the effect that we tried to avoid before.” 

“But what has happened?” 

“I believe that the narcotic period of the planet is over. The carnival is 
coming to an end.” 

“Do you know something, Brian? We did not have to go around the 
world at all. At any time we could have separated and outmaneuvered 
him. He could not have intercepted both of us going toward the weapons 
pile if we went different ways. But we could not bear to part.” 

“That is a woman’s explanation.” 

“Well, let’s see you find another one. You didn’t want to be parted 
from me, did you, Brian?” 

“No, I didn’t.” 

It was a rough, short night, but it would be the last. They moved in the 
agony of a cosmic hangover. 

“I’ve become addicted,” said Brian, “and the fruit has lost its numbing 
properties. I don’t see how it is possible for anyone to be so tired.” 

“I’d carry you again if I weren’t collapsing myself.” 

“Dammit, you couldn’t! You’re only a girl!” 

“I am not only a girl! Nobody is only an anything. Our trouble here 
may have started with your thinking that Snuffles was only an animal; 
and he read your thoughts and was insulted.” 

“He did not read my thoughts. He is only an animal. And I will shoot 
his fuzzy hide full of holes when we get to our campsite. Let’s keep on 
with it and not take any chances of his catching or passing us in the dark.” 

“How could Phelan’s corollary apply to this planet and no other when 
he had never been here then?” 

“Because, as I often suspected, Phelan had a touch of the joker in him 
and he composed it sardonically.” 

“Then he made it for fun. And do you still think that Bellota was made 
for fun?” 

“The fun has developed a grotesque side to it I am afraid I will have to 
put an end to a part of that fun. The dark is coming, and there is our 
campsite, and we are in the clear. I’ll make it before I drop if I have to 
bust a lung. There’s an elephant gun with a blaster attachment that I’ll 
take to that fur-coated phony. We’re going to have bear steak for 

He achieved the campsite. He had reached the wobbly state, but he 
still ran. He was inside the circle and at the gun stack, when a roar like 
double thunder froze his ears and his entrails. 

He leaped back, fell, rolled, crawled, snaked his way out of reach; and 
the sudden shock of it bewildered him. 

And there was Snuffles sitting in the middle of the supply dump and 
smoking the pipe of Billy Cross. 

And when the words rattled inside Brian’s head again, how could he 
be sure that it was hallucination and not the bear talking to him? 

“You thought that I had forgotten that Bellota was round? If you knew 
how much trouble I had making it as round as it is, you would know that I 
could never forget it.” 

Georgina came up, but fell to her knees in despair when she saw that 
Snuffles was there ahead of them. “I can’t run any more, Brian, and I 
know that you can’t. I am down and I can never get up again. How soon 
will they get here?” 

“The Marines?” 

“Yes, the ship.” 

“Too late to help us. I used to wish they would be late just once. I am 
getting that wish, but it isn’t as amusing as I anticipated.” 

Snuffles knocked out his pipe then, as a man would; and laid it 
carefully on a rock. Then he came out and killed them: Georgina, the 
friendly iceberg, and Brian, who did hate a pat ending. 

And Snuffles was still king of Bellota. 

The report of the ship read in part: 

No explanation of the fact that no attempt seems to have been made 
to use the weapons, though two of the party were killed nearly a week 
later than the others. All were mangled by the huge pseudo-ursine which 
seems to have run amok from eating the local fruit, seasonally narcotic. 
Impossible to capture animal without unwarranted delay of takeoff time. 
Gravitational incongruity must await fuller classification of data.” 

The next world that Snuffles made embodied certain improvements, 
and he did correct the gravity error but it still contained many elements 
of the grotesque. Perfection is a very long, very hard road. 


The protozoic recorder chirped like a bird. Not only would there be 
life traces on that little moon, but it would be a lively place. So they 
skipped several steps in the procedure. 

The chordata discerner read Positive over most of the surface. There 
was spinal fluid on that orb, rivers of it. So again they omitted several 
tests and went to the cognition scanner. Would it show Thought on the 

Naturally they did not get results at once, nor did they expect to; it 
required a fine adjustment. But they were disappointed that they found 
nothing for several hours as they hovered high over the rotation. Then it 
came, clearly and definitely, but from quite a small location only. 

“Limitedy” said Steiner, “as though within a pale. As follow the rest of 
the surface to find another, or concentrate though there were but one 
city, if that is its form. Shall we on this? It’ll be twelve hours before it’s 
back in our ken if we let it go now. 

“Let’s lock on this one and finish the scan. Then we can do the rest of 
the world to make sure we’ve missed nothing,” said Stark. 

There was one more test to run, one very tricky and difficult of 
analysis, that of the Extraordinary Perception Locator. This was designed 
simply to locate a source of superior thought. But this might be so varied 
or so unfamiliar that often both the machine and the designer of it were 
puzzled as how to read the results. 

The E.P. Locator had been designed by Glaser. But when the Locator 
had refused to read Positive when turned on the inventor himself, bad 
blood developed between machine and man. Glaser knew that he had 
extraordinary perception. He was a much honored man in his field. He 
told the machine so heatedly. 

The machine replied, with such warmth that its relays chattered, that 
Glaser did not have extraordinary perception; he had only ordinary 
perception to an extraordinary degree. There is a difference, the machine 

It was for this reason that Glaser used that model no more, but built 
others more amenable. And it was for this reason also that the owners of 
Little Probe had acquired the original machine so cheaply. 

And there was no denying that the Extraordinary Perception Locator 

(or Eppel) was a contrary machine. On Earth it had read Positive on a 
number of crack-pots, including Waxey Sax, a jazz tootler who could not 
even read music. But it had also read Positive on ninety percent of the 
acknowledged superior minds of the Earth. In space it had been a sound 
guide to the unusual intelligences encountered. Yet on Suzuki-Mi it had 
read Positive on a two-inch long worm, one only out of billions. For the 
countless identical worms no trace of anything at all was shown by the 

So it was with mixed emotions that Steiner locked onto the area and 
got a flick. He then narrowed to a smaller area (apparently one 
individual, though this could not be certain) and got very definite action. 
Eppel was busy. The machine had a touch of the ham in it, and assumed 
an air of importance when it ran these tests. 

Finally it signaled the result, the most exasperating result it ever 
produces: the single orange light. It was the equivalent of the shrug of the 
shoulders in a man. They called it the it “You tell me light.” So among the 
intelligences on that body there was at least one that might be 
extraordinary, though possibly in a crack-pot way. It is good to be 
forewarned. “Scan the remainder of the world, Steiner,” said Stark, “and 
the rest of us will get some sleep. If you find no other spot then we will go 
down on that one the next time it is in position unQer us, in about twelve 
hours.” “You don’t want to visit any of the other areas first? Somewhere 
away from the thoughtful creature?” “No. The rest of the world may be 
dangerous. There must be a reason that Thought is in one spot only. If we 
find no others then we will go down boldly and visit this.” So they all, 
except Steiner, went off to their bunks then: Stark, the captain; Caspar 
Craig, supercargo, tycoon and fifty-one percent owner of the Little Probe: 
Gregory Gilbert, the executive officer; and F. R. Briton, S. J., a Jesuit 
priest who was linguist and checker champion of the craft. 

Dawn did not come to the moon-town. The Little Probe hovered 
stationary in the light and the moon-town came up under the dawn. Then 
the Probe went down to visit whatever was there. 

“There’s no town,” said Steiner. “Not a building. Yet we’re on the track 
of the minds. There’s nothing but a meadow and some boscage, a sort of 
fountain or pool, and four streams booming out of it.” 

“Keep on toward the minds,” said Stark. “They’re our target.” 

“Not a building, not two sticks or stones placed together. It looks like 

an Earth-type sheep there. And that looks like an Earth-lion, I’m almost 
afraid to say it. And those two — why they could be Earth-people. But 
with a difference. Where is that bright light coming from?” 

“I don’t know, but they’re right in the middle of it. Land here. We’ll go 
to meet them at once. Timidity has never been an efficacious tool with 

Well, they were people. And one could only wish that all people were 
like them. There was a man and a woman, and they were clothed either in 
very bright garments or no garments at all, but only in a very bright light. 

“Talk to them, Father Briton,” said Stark. “You are the linguist.” 

“Howdy,” said the priest. 

He may or may not have been understood, but the two of them smiled 
at him so he went on. 

“Father Briton from Philadelphia,” he said, “on detached service. And 
you, my good man, what is your handle, your monicker, your tag?” 

“Ha-Adamah,” said the man. 

“And your daughter, or niece?” 

It may be that the shining man frowned momentarily at this; but the 
woman smiled, proving that she was human. 

“The woman is named Hawwah,” said the man. “The sheep is named 
sheep, the lion is named lion, the horse is named horse, and the hoolock 
is named hoolock.” 

“I understand. It is possible that this could go on and on. How is it 
that you use the English tongue?” 

“I have only one tongue; but it is given to us to be understood by all; 
by the eagle, by the squirrel, by the ass, by the English.” 

“We happen to be bloody Yankees, but we use a borrowed tongue. You 
wouldn’t have a drink on you for a tubful of thirsty travelers, would you?” 

“The fountain.” 

“Ah -1 see.” 

But the crew all drank of the fountain to be sociable. It was water, but 
water that excelled, cool and with all its origina bubbles like the first 
water ever made. 

“What do you make of them?” asked Stark. 

“Human,” said Steiner. “It may even be that they are a little more than 
human. I don’t understand that light that surrounds them. And they seem 
to be clothed, as it were, in dignity.” 

“And very little else,” said Father Briton, “though that light trick does 
serve a purpose. But I’m not sure they’d pass in Philadelphia.” “Talk to 
them again,” said Stark. “You’re the linguist.” “That isn’t necessary here, 
Captain. Talk to them yourself.” “Are there any other people here?” Stark 
asked the man. “The two of us. Man and woman.” 

“But are there any others?” 

“How would there be any others? What other kind of people could 
there be than man and woman?” 

“But is there more than one man or woman?” 

“How could there be more than one of anything?” The captain was a 
little puzzled by this, but he went on doggedly: “Ha-Adamah, what do you 
think that we are? Are we not people?” 

“You are not anything till I name you. But I will name you and then 
you can be. You are named captain. He is named priest. He is named 
engineer. He is named flunky.” 

“Thanks a lot,” said Steiner. 

“But are we not people?” persisted Captain Stark. 

“No. We are the people. There are no people but two. How could there 
be other people?” 

“And the damnedest thing about it,” muttered Steiner, “is how are we 
going to prove him wrong? But it does give you a small feeling.” 

“Can we have something to eat?” asked the captain. 

“Pick from the trees,” said Ha-Adamah, “and then it may be that you 
will want to sleep on the grass. Being not of human nature (which does 
not need sleep or rest), it may be that you require respite. But you are free 
to enjoy the garden and its fruits.” 

“We will,” said Captain Stark. 

They wandered about the place, but they were uneasy. 

There were the animals. The lion and lioness were enough to make 
one cautious, though they offered no harm. The two bears had a puzzling 
look, as though they wanted either to frolic with you or to mangle you. 

“If there are only two people here,” said Caspar Craig, “then it may be 
that the rest of the world is not dangerous at all. It looked fertile wherever 
we scanned it, though not so fertile as this central bit. And those rocks 
will bear examining.” 

“Flecked with gold, and possibly with something else,” said Stark. “A 
very promising site.” 

“And everything grows here,” added Stark. “Those are Earth-fruits 
and I never saw finer. I’ve tasted the grapes and plums and pears. The 
figs and dates are superb, the quince is as flavorsome as a quince can be, 
the cherries are excellent. And I never did taste such oranges. But I 
haven’t yet tried the-” and he stopped. 

“If you’re thinking what I’m afraid to think,” said Gilbert, “then it will 
be a test at least: whether we’re having a pleasant dream or whether this 
is reality. Go ahead and eat one. 

“I won’t be the first to eat one. You eat.” 

“Ask him first. You ask him.” 

“Ha-Adamah, is it allowed to eat the apples?” 

“Certainly. Eat. It is the finest fruit in the garden.” 

“Well, the analogy breaks down there,” said Stark. “I was almost 
beginning to believe in the thing. But, if it isn’t that, then what? Father 
Briton, you are the linguist, but in Hebrew does not Ha-Adamah and 
Hawwah mean —?” 

“Of course they do. You know that as well as I.” 

“I was never a believer. But would it be possible for the exact same 
proposition to maintain here as on Earth?” 

“All things are possible.” 

And it was then that Ha-Adamah, the shining man, gave a wild cry: 
“No. No. Do not approach it. It is not allowed to eat of that one.” 

It was the pomegranate tree, and he was warning Craig away from it. 

“Once more, Father,” said Stark, “you should be the authority; but 
does not the idea that it was an apple that was forbidden go back only to a 
medieval painting?” 

“It does. The name of the fruit is not mentioned in Genesis. In Hebrew 
exegesis, however, the pomegranate is usually indicated.” 

“I thought so. Question the man further, Father. This is too 

“It is a little odd. Adam, old man, how long have you been here?” 

“Forever less six days is the answer that has been given to me. I never 
did understand the answer, however.” 

“And have you gotten no older in all that time?” 

“I do not understand what ‘older’ is. I am as I have been from the 

“And do you think that you will ever die?” 

“To die I do not understand. I am taught that it is a property of fallen 
nature to die, and that does not pertain to me or mine.” 

“And are you happy here?” 

“Perfectly happy according to my preternatural state. But I am taught 
that it might be possible to lose that happiness, and then to seek it vainly 
through all the ages. I am taught that sickness and aging and even death 
could come if this happiness were ever lost. I am taught that on at least 
one other unfortunate world it has actually been lost.” 

“Do you consider yourself a knowledgeable man?” 

“Yes, since I am the only man, and knowledge is natural to man. But I 
am further blessed. I have a preternatural intellect.” 

Then Stark cut in once more: “There must be some one question you 
could ask him, Father. Some way to settle it. I am becoming nearly 

“Yes, there is a question that will settle it. Adam, old man, how about 
a game of checkers?” 

“This is hardly the time for clowning,” said Stark. 

“I’m not clowning, Captain. How about it, Adam? I’ll give you choice 
of colors and first move.” 

“No. It would be no contest. I have a preternatural intellect.” 

“Well, I beat a barber who was champion of Germantown. And I beat 
the champion of Morgan County, Tennessee, which is the hottest checker 
center on Earth. I’ve played against, and beaten, machines. But I never 
played a preternatural mind. Let’s just set up the board, Adam, and have 
a go at it.” 

“No. It would be no contest. I would not like to humble you.” 

They were there for three days. They were delighted with the place. It 
was a world with everything, and it seemed to have only two inhabitants. 
They went everywhere except into the big cave. 

“What is there, Adam?” asked Captain Stark. 

“The great serpent lives there. I would not disturb him. He has long 
been cranky because plans that he had for us did not materialize. But we 
are taught that should evil ever come to us, which it cannot if we 
persevere, it will come by him.” 

They learned no more of the real nature of the sphere in their time 
there. Yet all but one of them were convinced of the reality when they left. 
And they talked of it as they took off. 

“A crowd would laugh if told of it,” said Stark, “but not many would 
laugh if they had actually seen the place, or them. I am not a gullible man, 
but I am convinced of this: this is a pristine and pure world and ours and 
all the others we have visited are fallen worlds. Here are the prototypes of 
our first parents before their fall. They are garbed in light and innocence, 
and they have the happiness that we have been seeking for centuries. It 
would be a crime if anyone disturbed that happiness.” 

“I too am convinced,” said Steiner. “It is Paradise itself, where the lion 
lies down with the lamb, and where the serpent has not prevailed. It 
would be the darkest of crimes if we or others should play the part of the 
serpent, and intrude and spoil.” 

“I am probably the most skeptical man in the world “ said Caspar 
Craig the tycoon, “but I do believe my eyes. I have been there and seen it. 
It is indeed an unspoiled Paradise; and it would be a crime calling to the 
wide heavens for vengeance for anyone to smirch in any way that 

“So much for that. Now to business. Gilbert, take a gram: Ninety 
Million Square Miles of Pristine Paradise for sale or lease. Farming, 
Ranching, exceptional opportunities for Hortictilture. Gold, Silver, Iron, 
Earth-Type Fauna. Terms. Special rates for Large Settlement Parties. 
Write, gram, or call in person at any of our planetary offices as listed 
below. Ask for Brochure-Eden Acres Unlimited.” 

Down in the great cave that Old Serpent, a two-legged one among 
whose names was “Snake-Oil Sam,” spoke to his underlings: “It’ll take 
them fourteen days to get back with the settlers. We’ll have time to 
overhaul the blasters. We haven’t had any well-equipped settlers for six 
weeks. It used to be we’d hardly have time to strip and slaughter and stow 
before there was another hatch to take care of.” 

“I think you’d better write me some new lines,” said Adam. “I feel like 
a goof saying those same ones to each bunch.” 

“You are a goof, and therefore perfect for the part. I was in show 
business long enough to learn never to change a line too soon. I did 
change Adam and Eve to Ha-Adamah and Hawwah, and the apple to the 
pomegranate. People aren’t becoming any smarter — but they are 
becoming better researched, and they insist on authenticity. 

“This is still a perfect come-on here. There is something in human 
nature that cannot resist the idea of a Perfect Paradise. Folks will whoop 

and holler to their neighbors to come in droves to spoil it and mar it. It 
isn’t greed or the desire for new land so much, though that is strong too. 
Mainly it is the feverish passion to befoul and poison what is unspoiled. 
Fortunately I am sagacious enough to take advantage of this trait. And 
when you start to farm a new world on a shoestring you have to acquire 
your equipment as you can.” 

He looked proudly around at the great cave with its mountains and 
tiers of material; heavy machinery of all sorts, titanic crates of foodstuff 
space-sealed; wheeled, tracked, propped, vanned, and jetted vehicles; and 
power packs to run a world. 

He looked at the three dozen space ships stripped and stacked, and at 
the rather large pile of bone-meal in one corner. 

“We will have to get another lion,” said Eve. “Bowser is getting old, 
and Marie-Yvette abuses him and gnaws his toes. And we do have to have 
a big-maned lion to lie down with the lamb.” 

“I know it, Eve. The lion is a very important prop. Maybe one of the 
crack-pot settlers will bring a new lion.” 

“And can’t you mix another kind of shining paint?” asked Adam. “This 
itches. It’s hell.” 

“I’m working on it.” 

Caspar Craig was still dictating the gram: “Amazing quality of 
longevity seemingly inherent in the locale. Climate Ideal. Daylight or half- 
light all twenty-one hours from Planet Delphina and from Sol Caspar 
Craig Number Three. Pure water for all industrial purposes. Scenic and 
Storied. Zoning and pre-settlement restrictions to insure congenial 
neighbors. A completely planned globular settlement in a near arm of our 
own galaxy. Low taxes and liberal credit. Financing our specialty —” 

“And you had better have an armed escort when you return,” said 
Father Briton. 

“Why in cosmos would we want an armed escort?” 

“It’s as phoney as a seven-credit note.” 

“You, a man of the cloth, doubt it? And us ready skeptics convinced by 
our senses? Why do you doubt?” 

“It is only the unbelieving who believe so easily in obvious frauds. 
Theologically unsound, dramaturgically weak, philologically impossible, 
zoologically rigged, salted conspicuously with gold, and shot through with 
anachronisms. And moreover he was afraid to play me at checkers.” 


“If I had a preternatural intellect I wouldn’t be afraid of a game of 
checkers with anyone. Yet there was an unusual mind there somewhere; 
it is just that he chose not to make our acquaintance personally.” 

They looked at the priest thoughtfully. 

“But it was Paradise in one way,” said Steiner. 


“All the time we were there the woman did not speak.” 


Anthony Trotz went first to the politician, Mike Delado. 

“How many people do you know, Mr. Delado?” 

“Why the question?” 

“I am wondering lust what amount of detail the mind can hold.” 

“To a degree I know many. Ten thousand well, thirty thousand by 
name, probably a hundred thousand by face and to shake hands with.” 

“And what is the limit?” 

“Possibly I am the limit.” The politician smiled frostily. “The only limit 
is time, speed of cognizance, and retention. I am told that the latter 
lessens with age. I am seventy, and it has not done so with me. Whom I 
have known I do not forget.” 

“And with special training could one go beyond you?” 

“I doubt if one could — much. For my own training has been quite 
special. Nobody has been so entirely with the people as I have. I’ve taken 
five memory courses in my time, but the tricks of all of them I had already 
come to on my own. I am a great believer in the commonality of mankind 
and of near equal inherent ability. Yet there are some, say the one man in 
fifty, who in degree if not in kind does exceed his fellows in scope and 
awareness and vitality. I am that one man in fifty, and knowing people is 
my specialty.” 

“Could a man who specialized still more — and to the exclusion of 
other things — know a hundred thousand men well?” 

“It is possible. Dimly.” 

“A quarter of a million?” 

“I think not He might learn that many faces and names, but he would 
not know the men.” 

Anthony went next to the philosopher, Gabriel Mindel. 

“Mr. Mindel, how many people do you know?” 

“How know? Per se? A Se? Or In se? Per suam essentiam, perhaps? Or 
do you mean ab alio? Or to know as hoc aiiquid? There is a fine 
difference there. Or do you possibly mean to know in subsiantia prima, or 
in the sense of comprehensive noumena?” 

“Somewhere between the latter two. How many persons do you know 
by name, face, and with a degree of intimacy?” 

“I have learned over the years the names of some of my colleagues, 

possibly a dozen of them. I am now sound on my wife’s name, and I 
seldom stumble over the names of my offspring — never more than 
momentarily. But you may have come to the wrong man for... whatever 
you have come for. I am notoriously poor at names, faces, and persons. I 
have even been described (vox faucibus haesit) as absentminded.” 

“Yes, you do have the reputation. But perhaps I have not come to the 
wrong man in seeking the theory of the thing. What is it that limits the 
comprehensive capacity of the mind of man? What will it hold? What 

“The body.” 

“How is that?” 

“The brain, I should say, the material tie. The mind is limited by the 
brain. It is skull-bound. It can accumulate no more than its cranial 
capacity, though not one-tenth of that is ordinarily used. An unbodied 
mind would (in esoteric theory) be unlimited.” 

“And how in practical theory?” 

“if it is practical, a pragma, it is a thing and not a theory.” 

“Then we can have no experience with the unbodied mind, or the 
possibility of it?” 

“We have not discovered any area of contact, but we may entertain the 
possibility of it. There is no paradox here. One may rationally consider 
the irrational.” 

Anthony went next to see the priest. 

“How many people do you know?” he asked him. 

“I know them all.” 

“That has to be doubted,” said Anthony after a moment. 

“I’ve had twenty different stations. And when you hear five thousand 
confessions a year for forty years, you by no means know all about people, 
but you do know all people.” 

“I do not mean types. I mean persons. 

“Oh, I know a dozen or so well, a few thousands somewhat less.” 

“Would it be possible to know a hundred thousand people, a half 

“A mentalist might know that many to recognize; I don’t know the 
limit But darkened man has a limit set; on everything.” 

“Could a somehow emancipated man know more?” 

“The only emancipated man is the corporally dead man And the dead 

man, if he attains the beatific vision, knows all other persons who have 
ever been since time began.” 

“All the billions?” 


“With the same brain?” 

“No. But with the same mind.” 

“Then wouldn’t even a believer have to admit that the mind which we 
have now is only a token mind? Would not any connection it would have 
with a completely comprehensive mind be very tenuous? Would we really 
be the same person if so changed? It is like saying a bucket would hold 
the ocean if it were fulfilled, which only means filled full. How could it be 
the same mind?” 

“I don’t know.” 

Anthony went to see the psychologist. 

“How many people do you know, Dr. Shirm?” 

“I could be crabby and say that I know as many as want to; but it 
wouldn’t be the truth. I rather like people, which is odd in my profession. 
What is it that you really want to know?” 

“How many people can one man know?” 

“It doesn’t matter very much. People mostly overestimate the number 
of their acquaintances. What is it that you are trying to ask me?” 

“Could one man know everyone?” 

“Naturally not. But unnaturally he might seem to. There is a delusion 
to this effect accompanied by euphoria, and it is called — ” 

“I don’t want to know what it is called. Why do specialists use Latin 
and Greek?” 

“One part hokum, and two parts need; there simply not being enough 
letters in the alphabet of exposition without them. It is as difficult to 
name concepts as children, and we search our brains as a new mother 
does. It will not do to call two children or two concepts by the same 

“Thank you. I doubt that this is delusion, and it is not accompanied by 

Anthony had a reason for questioning the four men since (as a new 
thing that had come to him) he knew everybody. He knew everyone in 
Salt Lake City, where he had never been. He knew everybody in Jebel 
Shah, where the town is a little amphitheater around the harbor, and in 

Batangas and Weilmi. He knew the loungers around the end of the Galata 
bridge in Istanbul, and the porters in Kuala Lumpur. He knew the 
tobacco traders in Plovdiv, and the cork cutters of Portugal. He knew the 
dock workemen in Djibouti, and the glove makers in Prague. He knew the 
vegetable farmers around El Centro, and the muskrat trappers of 
Barrataria Bay. He knew the three billion people of the world by name 
and face, and with a fair degree of intimacy. 

“Yet I’m not a very intelligent man. I’ve been called a bungler. And 
they’ve had to reassign me three different times at the filter center. I’ve 
seen only a few thousands of those billions of people, and it seems 
unusual that I should know them all. It may be a delusion, as Dr. Shirm 
says, but it is a heavily detailed delusion, and it is not accompanied by 
euphoria. I feel like green hell just thinking of it.” 

He knew the cattle traders of Letterkenny Donegal; he knew the cane 
cutters of Oriente, and the tree climbers of Milne Bay. He knew the 
people who died every minute, and those who were born. 

“There is no way out of it. I know everybody in the world. It is 
impossible, but it is so. And to what purpose? There aren’t a handful of 
them I could borrow a dollar from, and I haven’t a real friend in the lot. I 
don know whether it came to me suddenly, but I realized it suddenly. My 
father was a junk dealer in Wichita, and my education is spotty. I am 
maladjusted, introverted, incompetent and unhappy, and I also have 
weak kidneys. Why should a power like this come to a man like me?” 

The children in the streets hooted at him. Anthony had always had a 
healthy hatred for children and dogs, those twin harassers of the 
unfortunate and the maladjusted. Both run in packs, and both are 
cowardly attackers. If either of them spots a weakness he will not let it go. 
That Anthony’s father had been a junk dealer was no reason to hoot at 
him. And how did the children even know about that? Did they possess 
some fraction of the power that had come on him lately? 

But he had strolled about the town for too long. He should have been 
at work at the filter center, often they were impatient with him when he 
wandered off from his work, and Colonel Peter Cooper was waiting for 
him when he came in now. 

“Where have you been, Anthony?” 

“Walking. I talked to four men. I mentioned no subject in the province 
of the filter center.” 

“Every subject is in the province of the filter center. And you know 
that our work here is confidential.” 

“Yes, sir, but I do not understand the import of my work here. I would 
not be able to give out information that I do not have.” 

“A popular misconception. There are others who might understand 
the import of it, and be able to reconstruct it from what you tell them. 
How do you feel?” 

“Nervous, unwell, my tongue is furred, and my kidneys —” 

“Ah yes, there will be someone here this afternoon to fix your kidneys. 
I have not forgotten. Is there anything that you want to tell me?” 

“No, sir.” 

Colonel Cooper had the habit of asking that of his workers in the 
manner of a mother asking a child if he wants to go to the bathroom. 
There was something embarrassing in his intonation. 

Well, he did want to tell him something, but he didn’t know how to 
phrase it. He wanted to tell the colonel that he had newly acquired the 
power of knowing everyone in the world, that he was worried how he 
could hold so much in a head that was not noteworthy in its capacity. But 
he feared ridicule more than he feared anything and he was a tangle of 

But he thought he would try it a little bit on his co-workers. 

“I know a man named Walter Walloroy in Galveston,” he said to 
Adrian. “He drinks beer at the Gizmo bar, and is retired.” 

“What is the superlative of so what?” 

“But I have never been there,” said Anthony. 

“And I have never been in Kalamazoo.” 

“I lknow a girl in Kalamazoo. Her name is Greta Harandash. She is 
home today with a cold. She is prone to colds.” 

But Adrian was a creature both uninterested and uninteresting. It is 
very hard to confide in one who is uninterested. 

“Well, I will live with it a little while,” said Anthony. “Or I may have to 
go to a doctor and see if he can give me something to make all these 
people go away. But if he thinks my story is a queer one, he may report 
me back to the center, and I might be reclassified again. It makes me 
nervous to be reclassffied.” 

So he lived with it a while, the rest of the day and the night. He should 
have felt better. A man had come that afternoon and fixed his kidneys; 

but there was nobody to fix his nervousness and apprehension. And his 
skittishness was increased when the children hooted at him as he walked 
to work in the morning. That hated epithet! But how could they know 
that his father had been a dealer in used metals in a town far away? 

He had to confide in someone. 

He spoke to Wellington; who also worked in his room. “I know a girl 
in Beirut who is just going to bed. It is evening there now, you know.” 

“That so? Why don’t they get their time straightened out? I met a girl 
last night that’s cute as a correlator key, and kind of shaped like one. She 
doesn’t know yet that I work in the center and am a restricted person. I’m 
not going to tell her. Let her find out for herself.” 

It was no good trying to tell things to Wellington. Wellington never 
listened. And then Anthony got a summons to Colonel Peter Cooper, 
which always increased his apprehension. 

“Anthony,” said the colonel, “I want you to tell me if you discern 
anything unusual. That is really your job, to report anything unusual. The 
other, the paper shuffling, is just something to keep your idle hands busy. 
Now tell me clearly if anything unusual has come to your notice.” 

“Sir, it has.” And then he blurted it out. “I know everybody. I know 
everybody in the world. I know them all in their billions, every person. It 
has me worried sick.” 

“Yes, yes, Anthony. But tell me, have you noticed anything odd? It is 
your duty to tell me if you have.” 

“But I have just told you! In some manner I know every person in the 
world. I know the people in Transvaal, I know the people in Guatemala. I 
know every body.” 

“Yes, Anthony, we realize that. And it may take a little getting used to. 
But that isn’t what I mean. Have you, besides that thing that seems out of 
the way to you, noticed anything unusual, anything that seems out of 
place, a little bit wrong?” 

“Ah, besides that and your reaction to it, no, sir. Nothing else odd. I 
might ask, though, how odd can a thing get? But other than that, no, sir.” 

“Good, Anthony. Now remember, if you sense anything odd about 
anything at all, come and tell me. No matter how trivial it is, if you feel 
that something is just a little bit out of place, then report it at once. Do 
you understand that?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

But he couldn’t help wondering what it might be that the Colonel 
would consider a little bit odd. 

Anthony left the center and walked. He shouldn’t have. He knew that 
they became impatient with him when he wandered off from his work. 

“But I have to think. I have all the people in the world in my brain, 
and still I am not able to think. This power should have come to someone 
able to take advantage of it.” 

He went into the Plugged Nickel Bar, but the man on duty knew him 
for a restricted person from the filter center, and would not serve him. 

He wandered disconsolately about the city. “I know the people in 
Omaha and those in Omsk. What queer names have the towns of the 
earth! I know everyone in the world, and when anyone is born or dies. 
And Colonel Cooper did not find it unusual. Yet I am to be on the lookout 
for things unusual. The question rises, would I know an odd thing if I met 

And then it was that something just a little bit unusual did happen, 
something not quite right, a small thing. But the Colonel had told him to 
report anything about anything, no matter how insignificant, that struck 
him as a little queer. 

It was just that with all the people in his head, and the arrivals and 
departures, there was a small group that was not of the pattern. Every 
minute hundreds left by death and arrived by birth. And now there was a 
small group, seven persons; they arrived into the world, and they were 
not horn into the world. 

So Anthony went to tell Colonel Cooper that something had occurred 
to his mind that was a little bit odd. 

But damn-the-dander-headed-two-and-four-legged devils, there were 
the kids and the dogs in the street again, yipping and hooting and 

“Tony the tin man, Tony the tin man.” 

He longed for the day when he would see them fall like leaves out of 
his mind, and death take them. 

“Tony the tin man. Tony the tin man.” 

How had they known that his father was a used metal dealer? 

Colonel Peter Cooper was waiting for him. 

“You surely took your time, Anthony. Tell me at once what it is and 
where. The reaction was registered, but it would take us hours to pinpoint 

its source without your help. Now then, explain as calmly as you can what 
you felt or experienced. Or, more to the point, where are they?” 

“No. You will have to answer certain questions first.” 

“I haven’t the time to waste, Anthony. Tell me once what it is and 

“No. There is no other way. You have to bargain with me.” 

“One does not bargain with restricted persons.” 

“Well, I will bargain till I find out just what it means that I am a 
restricted person.” 

“You really don’t know? Well, we haven’t time to fix that stubborn 
streak in you now. Quickly, just what is that you have to know?” 

“I have to know what a restricted person is. I have to now why the 
children hoot ‘Tony the tin man’ at me. How can they know that my 
father was a junk dealer?” 

“You had no father. We give to each of you a basic collection of 
concepts and the vocabulary to handle them, a sufficient store of 
memories, and a background of a distant town. That happened to be 
yours, but there is no connection here. The children call you Tony the Tin 
Man because, like all really cruel creatures, they have an instinct for the 
truth that can hurt; and they will never forget it.” 

“Then I am a tin man?” 

“Well, no. Actually only seventeen percent metal. And less than a third 
of one percent tin. You are compounded of animal, vegetable, and 
mineral fiber, and here was much effort given to your manufacture and 
programming. Yet the taunt of the children is essentially true.” 

“Then, if I am Tony the Tin Man, how can I know all the people of the 
world in my mind?” 

“You have no mind.” 

“In my brain then. How can all that be in one small brain?” 

“Because your brain is not in your head, and it is not small. The 
longest way around may take the shortest time here. Come, I may as well 
show it to you. I’ve told you enough that it won’t matter if you know a 
little more. There are few who are taken on personally conducted 
sightseeing tours of their own brains. You should be grateful.” 

“Gratitude seems a little tardy.” 

They went into the barred area, down into the bowels of the main 
building of the center. And they looked at the brain of Anthony Trotz, a 

restricted person in its special meaning. 

“It is the largest in the world,” said Colonel Cooper. 

“How large?” 

“A little over twelve hundred cubic meters.” 

“What a brain! And it is mine?” 

“You share it with others. But, yes, it is yours. You have access to its 
data. You are an adjunct to it, a runner for it, an appendage, inasmuch as 
you are anything at all.” 

“Colonel Cooper, how long have I been alive?” 

“You are not.” 

“How long have I been as I am now?” 

“It is three days since you were last reassigned, since you were 
assigned to this. At that time your nervousness and apprehensions were 
introduced. An appreheisive unit will be more inclined to notice details 
just little out of the ordinary.” 

“And what is my purpose?” 

They were now walking back to the office work area, and Anthony had 
a sad feeling at leaving his brain behind him. 

“This is a filter center,” said Colonel Cooper, “and your purpose is to 
serve as a filter, of a sort. Every person has a slight aura about him. It is a 
characteristic of his, and is part of his personality and purpose. And it can 
be detected, electrically, magnetically, even visually under special 
conditions. The accumulator at which we were looking (your brain) is 
designed to maintain contact with all the auras in the world, and to keep 
running and complete data on them all. It contains a multiplicity of 
circuits for each of its three billion and some subjects. However, as aid to 
its operation, it was necessary to assign several artificial consciousnesses 
to it. You are one of these.” 

Anthony looked out the window as the Colonel continued his 

The dogs and the children had found a new victim in the streets 
below, and Anthony’s heart went out to him. 

“The purpose,” said Colonel Cooper, “was to notice anything just a 
little peculiar in the auras and the persons they represent, anything at all 
odd in their comings and goings. Anything like what you have come here 
to report to me.” 

“Like the seven persons who recently arrived in the world, and not by 

way of birth?” 

“Yes. We have been expecting the first of the aliens for months. We 
must know their area, and at once. Now tell me.” 

“What if they are not aliens at all? What if they are restricted persons 
like myself?” 

“Restricted persons have no aura, are not persons, are not alive. And 
you would not receive knowledge of them.” 

“Then how do I know the other restricted persons here, Adrian and 
Wellington, and such?” 

“You know them at first hand. You do not know them through the 
machine. Now tell me the area quickly. The center may be a primary 
target. It will take the machine hours to ravel it out. Your only purpose is 
to serve as an intuitive shortcut.” 

But Tin Man Tony did not speak. He only thought in his mind — more 
accurately, in his brain a hundred yards away. He thought in his 
fabricated consciousness: 

The area is quite near. If the Colonel were not burdened with a mind, 
he would be able to think more clearly. He would know that cruel 
children and dogs love to worry what is not human, and that all the 
restricted persons for this area are accounted for. He would know that 
they are worrying one of the aliens in the street below, and that is the 
area that is right for my consciousness. 

I wonder if they will be better manners? He is an imposing figure, and 
he would be able to pass for a man. And the Colonel is right: the center is 
a primary target. 

Why! I never knew you could kill a child just by pointing a finger at 
him like that! What opportunities I have missed! Enemy of my enemy, 
you are my friend. 

And aloud he said to the Colonel: 

“I will not tell you.” 

“Then we’ll have you apart and get it out of you mighty quick.” 

“How quick?” 

“Ten minutes.” 

“Time enough,” said Tony. 

For he knew them now, coming in like snow. They were arriving in the 
world by the hundreds, and not arriving by birth. 


When Pio Quindecimo — Confiteantur Domino Misercordia ejus — 
had proclaimed it, it was received, even by the faithful, with a measure of 
ennui. Contingent, speculative, rhetorical — it was not thought of as 
touching on practicality. Pio was not one of the outstanding Popes The 

The encyclical was titled modestly “Euntes Ergo DoCete Omnes”: 
“Going therefore Teach Ye All.” Its substance was that this was a literal 
command of the Lord, and that the time had come to implement that 
command in its extreme meaning; that when the Lord had said “Go into 
all lands,” He had not meant to go into lands of one narrow earth only; 
that when the Lord had said “Teach Ye All,” it was not meant to teach all 
men only... within the narrow,, framework in which we have considered 
the term “men.” 

Should the command be taken literally, its implementation would 
cause far-reaching activity. It was in the implementation of the command 
that Padreco Barnaby was now on that remote planet, Analos. 

Could one call the Anabi humans? Had their skeletal remains been 
discovered on old Earth, they would unhesitatingly have been classed as 
human. The oddly formed ears — not really as large as they seemed — 
somewhat Gothic in their steepled upsweep, their slight caudal 
appendage, their remarkable facial mobility and chameleon-like 
complexions, these could not have been read from their bone remains. 
But how are we to say that their ears were more grotesque than our own? 
When did you last look at your own ears objectively? Are they not odd 
things to be sticking on the sides of a person’s head? 

“They are gargoyles,” said an early visitor from Earth. Of course they 
were. The gargoyles had been copied by a still earlier visitor to Analos 
from Earth. But they were a lively and interesting bunch of gargoyles: 
mechanically civilized, ethically weird, artistically exciting. They were 
polished and polyglot, and in many ways more human than the humans. 

On Analos, the Padreco was at first a guest of Landmaster, a leading 
citizen. Here the priest, speaking of his mission, first came up against the 

“I can see what this might lead to, little priest,” Land-master told him 
when they discussed the situation. “It might even become bothersome to 

us — if we ever let anything bother us — if we had not passed beyond the 
stage where annoyance was possible. So long as you confined your 
activity to resident Earthlings and humans or that recension, there was 
no problem. Fortunately we do not fall within those categories. That 
being so, I do not see how your present aspirations can have any point of 
contact with us.” 

“You Anabi are sentient creatures of great natural intelligence, 
Landmaster. As such it is even possible that you have souls.” 

“We have souls that are fully realized. What could humans give to us 
who transcend humanity?” 

“The Truth, the Way, the Life, the Baptism.” 

“We have the first three greatly beyond yourselves. The last — the 
crabbed rite of a dying sect — what could that give us?” 

“Forgiveness of your sins.” 

“But we haven’t any sins. That’s the whole point about us. We’ve long 
since passed beyond that. You humans are still awkward and guilt- 
ridden. You are of a species which as yet has no adult form. Vicariously 
we may be the adult form of yourselves. The idea of sin is an aspect of 
your early awkwardness.” 

“Everybody has sins, Landmaster.” 

“Only according to your own childish thesis, little priest. And 
consequent to that, you would reason that everybody must be saved-and 
by yourselves, a race of crop-eared, flat-faced children. 

“But consider how meaningless it becomes in relation to ourselves, 
the Analoi. How could we sin? What would we have to sin about? Our 
procreation no longer follows the grotesque pattern of your own, and 
ours is without passion. You can see that ninety percent of your sin is 
already gone. 

“What else is left to us? What other opportunity — if that is the word 
for it — have we for sinning? We have no poverty, no greed, no envy. Our 
metabolism is so regulated that neither sloth nor hysterical activity is 
possible. We have long ago attained a balance in all things; and ‘sin’ is 
only a form of unbalance. 

“I have forgotten, little priest. What are the ‘sins’ of the childish 

“Pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth,” said Padreco 
Barnaby. “These are the capital sins and the sources of sin. All others 

derive from them.” 

“Spoken like a valiant little mime. And nothing is derived but from a 
source. But you can see how completely we lack these seven stumbling 
blocks of children. Pride is only a misunderstanding of the nature of 
achievement; covetousness disappears when all that could be coveted has 
been acquired; lust is an adjunct of an arrangement that no longer has a 
counterpart in ourselves. Anger, gluttony, envy, sloth are only 
malfunctions. All malfunctions are subject to adjustment and correction, 
and we have corrected them.” 

Padreco Barnaby was defeated for the while, and he let his mind 
wander. He gazed over the countryside of Analos. 

An early explorer has given his impression of that world: 

“It was as though I were walking under water,” he wrote. “This was 
not from any obstruction or resistance, for the atmosphere is lighter than 
Earth’s. It was from a sort of shimmering and wavering of the air itself 
and from the ‘air shadows,’ not clouds, that pass along like the running 
shadows of overhead waves. This, coupled with the flora (very like the 
underwater plants of Earth,, though free-standing) gave me the feeling 
that I was walking on the bottom of the ocean. 

To the Padreco it seemed as though he had been talking under water 
and that he had not been heard. 

“What is the meaning of that giant kettle in the center of your main 
plaza, Landmaster?” he finally asked. “It seems quite old.” 

“It is a relic of our old race, and we keep it. We have a certain 
reverence for the past — even the obsoleted past In minds as great as ours 
there is room even for relics.” 

“Then it has no present use?” 

“No. But under a special condition we could revert to an ancient use of 
it. That need not concern you now.” 

A kettle, a giant kettle! You have no idea how grotesquely pot-bellied 
the thing was! 

But the Padreco returned impotently to his main theme. 

“There has to be sin, Landmaster! How else can there be salvation?” 

“We have salvation, little priest You haven’t How could you bring it to 

So Padreco Barnaby left Landmaster and went out to see if he could 
not discover sin somewhere on Analos. He asked a small boy about it. 

“Sonny, do you know what sin is? Have you ever run across the 

“Sir and stranger, sin is an archaic word for an outmoded thing. It is 
an appurtenance to an unciarified state of mind that still obtains on the 
more benighted worlds. The word and the concept behind it will pass into 
oblivion as soon as true light can be brought into those dark places.” 

Damnation! — a meaningless word on Analos: even the children of the 
gargoyles were too polite to be human. 

“You little monster, do all the children on Analos talk like that?” 

“All who are not deviationists would of necessity talk as I do. And 
‘monster,’ as you call me with disapprobation, means a ‘show-piece,’ that 
which is displayed, a wonder. The late meaning of the word in the sense 
of a grotesque animal is an accretion. I gladly accept the name of monster 
in its true meaning. We are the Monsters of the Universe.” 

“Damme, I believe that you are,” the Padreco said to himself. Polygot 
little prig! He couldn’t even cope with the children of the things. 

“Sonny, do you ever have any fun?” he finally asked. 

“Fun is another archaic word; but I am not sound on its meaning,” 
said the boy. “Is it not related to the obsolete concept of sin?” 

“Not directly, boy. Fun is the third side of a two-headed coin. It slips 
in. Or it used to.” 

“Sir and stranger, it is possible that you should take course in 
corrective semantics.” 

“I may be taking one now. But what of the children are deviationists? 
Where are they? And what are like?” 

“l don’t know. If they don’t pass their probationary period, we don’t 
see them any more. I believe they are sent to another place.” 

“l have to find a little bit of sin somewhere,” the Padreco mumbled to 
himself. “An honest man should be able to find it anywhere if he really 
inquires. On Earth the saying was that a taxi-driver would always know 
where to find it.” 

The Padreco hailed a taxi. A taxi is a circle. That is to say that one 
clambers over and sits in the single circular seat that faces inward. The 
Analoi are gregarious and like to gaze on the faces of their fellows. Only 
the shame-capable humans would wish to sit in Unfacing rows. The 
driver sits above in an open turret, and dangles his head down to talk. 

“Where would you go, stranger?” the driver asked the Padreco. There 

was one other passenger, a thoughtful man of early middle age. 

“I’m looking for sin,” the Padreco told the driver, “it’s a tradition that 
taxi-drivers always know where to fin it.” 

“Riddles is it, stranger? Let me deliver my other customer while I 
puzzle this one out. It’s his last ride and that makes it important.” 

“How is it your last ride?” Padreco Barnaby asked the thoughtful man. 
Conversation was unavoidable in such a taxi. The facing was too direct to 
get out of it. 

“Oh, my time has come,” said the man, “a little earlier than with most. 
I’ve drunk the cup empty, so there’s nothing left. It was a nice life — well, 
I suppose it was. Rather expected more out of it, but I see now that I 
shouldn’t have. An adult will know when it’s over. And they do make a 
clean end of it for you.” 

“Deus meus; is that the way it ends on Analos?” 

“How else? Natural death has been pushed back so far that nobody 
could contemplate waiting for it. Should we drag out our lives and 
become abridged repetitious creatures like those of the lesser races? One 
goes quietly when he realizes that he has covered it all.” 

“But that is despair!” 

“A little boy’s word for a little boy’s thing. Termination with dignity — 
that’s the only way. Goodbye to you both. And to all.” 

The thoughtful man got out and entered the Terminators. 

“Now what was the name of that thing you wanted to be taken to, 
stranger?” the taxi-driver asked the Padreco. 

“Never mind. I may have found it already. I’ll walk back.” 

There was something here that needed a name. 

He walked till he came to the buildings of the city again, and the 
buildings distorted as he neared them. The edifices of Analos seem 
bulbous at near view, and indeed they are built slightly so. Yet when seen 
at a distance, due to a vagary of atmosphere called Towering by Earth 
meteorologists, they appear normal and straight. The few buildings built 
to Earth specifications Seemed pinched-in when viewed from afar, almost 
collapsing on themselves. But to the Padreco, the pot-bellied buildings of 
Analos made him feel a complete alien. He was lost in this world, and he 
cried out: 

“Oh, for the old familiar sins that one can get hold of and denounce! 
In my book, Termination is not the only way, and Dignity has another 

meaning. Where are the people who sin like people? Is there nowhere a 
healthy case of d.t.s or a hoppy in need of reform? Is &ere no burglar I 
can call my brother? No golden-hearted chippy who needs only be shown 
the right way? Is there no thief or usurer or politician to strike a note of 
reality? Hypocrites, wife-beaters, seducers, d8magogues, sleazy old 
perverters, where can I find you? Answer me! I need you now!” 

“Sir, sir, you are crying out in the street,” a young Anabi lady told him. 
“Are you ill? What are you calling out for?” 

“Sin. A little sin, please, for the love of Christ. If there is no sin in my 
cellar, then the foundation of my house is not what I supposed.” 

“Hardly anyone uses sin any more, sir. What a peculiar thing to be 
crying out in the street for! But I believe there is one shop that still 
handles it. Here. I will write you the address.” 

Padreco Barnaby took the address and ran to the shop. It was not 
what he sought. Sin was an old name of a scent, but the name had been 
changed as no longer conveying a meaning. 

There were very many of these scent shops. Too many. And the scent 
of the scent shops was not the odor of sanctity. Was it possible that a new 
sensuality had taken the place of the old? 

And the other shops — block after block of them — what were they 
for? What were the uses of the strange apparatus displayed in them? And 
why should the give that sticky feeling of menace? 

The Padreco spent a long day wandering through the capital city of 
Analos. The pavements were green and artfully shadow-painted so as to 
resemble turf. The effect, however, was not that of placid nature; it was of 
a primordial wildness able to break through the thin shell at any time. 
And what was the new weirdness that came over him when he walked 
through the parks. The earlier explorer had been mistaken: the plants of 
Analos did not resemble the undersea plants of Earth; they resembled the 
undersea animals. They leered like devilfish and grinned like sharks. 

It was here everywhere. But it had changed its name. 

It was with shameful triumph that Padreco Barnaby first uncovered 
the sweeping outlines of the thing. It was with growing horror that he 
amassed the details. When he had enough of it, he went back to 
Landmaster, who was now with several others of his kind. 

“Repent! Repent!” the Padreco called to them. “The ax is already laid 
to the roots. The tree that bears evil fruit will be cut down and cast into 

the fire!” 

“Of what should we repent, little priest?” Landmaster asked. 

“Of your sins! At once! Before it is too late!” 

“I have explained to you that we have no sins, little priest; and that we 
could not have them according to our developing nature. Your repetition 
would annoy us... if we ever let anything annoy us.” 

Landmaster made a sign to one of his fellows, who left them at once. 

“What were the rather humorous names you gave them this 
morning?” Landmaster asked, turning again to the priest. 

“You remember the names I gave. Now I give others. Too effete for the 
ancient sins themselves, you have the deadly shadows of them: 
presumption, establishment, ruthlessness, selfishness, satiety, monopoly, 

“An interesting argument. We have a Department of Interesting 
Arguments. You should go there and have it recorded.” 

“I will record it here. You practice infanticide, juvenicide senectucide, 

“Yes, the Gentle Terminators.” 

“You murder your own children who do not measure up to your 
atrocious norm.” 

“Judicious Selection.” 

“You have invented new lusts and perversions.” 

“Refined Amusements.” 

“There are the evil who are evil openly. There are the evil who hide 
their evil and deny that they are venomous. There are the ultimate in evil 
who keep the venom and change the Name of the Snake.” 

“I’m happy that we’re the ultimate,” said Landmaster. “We would be 
affronted by a lesser classification.” 

Padreco Barnaby raised his head. 

“I smell wood burning,” he said suddenly. “You no longer use wood 
for fuel here.” 

“In one case only,” said Landmaster. An ancient and seldom employed 
ritual of ours.” 


“You do not understand, little priest? Ten million Earth cartoons of 
the thing and still you do not understand them or comprehend their 
origin. What is the unvarying fate of the Missioner cast up on the Savage 


“You are not supposed to be savage.” 

“We revert, little priest. In this one case we revert. It is our ancient 
answer to the obstreperous missioner who persists in asking us the 
irksome question. We cannot allow ourselves to be irked.” 

Padreco Barnaby couldn’t believe it Even after they put him in the 
monstrous kettle he couldn’t believe it. They were setting the long tables 
for the feast — and surely it was all a mistake! 

“Landmaster! You people — you creatures — can’t be serious!” 

“Why no, little priest. This is a comical affair. Why should we be 
serious? Do you not think it comical that the missioner should be boiled 
in a pot?” 

“No! No! It’s ghastly!” 

This had to be a dream — an underwater nightmare. 

“Why did you make ten million comical cartoons of the thing if you 
didn’t find it comic?” Landmaster asked with black pleasure. 

“I didn’t make them! Yes, I did — two of them — when I was a 
seminarian, and for our own little publication. Landmaster! The water is 
hellish hot!” 

“Are we magicians that we can boil a man in cold water?” 

“Not — not shoes and all?” the Padreco gasped. That seemed to be the 
ultimate outrage. 

“Shoes and all, little priest. We like the flavor. What was your own 
favorite caption for the race-memory cartoons, Padreco?” 

“You can’t do this to me!!” 

“Yes, that was a good one. But it was the subscript, as I remember it, 
and the caption was ‘Famous Last Words.’ However, my own favorite, 
while it concerns anthropophagi, does not concern a missioner. It was the 
cannibal chief who said, ‘My wife makes a fine soup. I’ll miss her.’ What 
was your favorite of the kettle jokes, Shareshuffler?” 

Shareshuffler had a great two-tined fork, and he stuck it into Padreco 
Barnaby to see if he was done yet. The Padreco was far from done, and 
the clamor he set up made it impossible to hear Shareshuffler’s own 
favorite of the folk jokes. This is a loss, for it was one of the best of them 

How loud the little priest was against the Anabi carrying out their 
ancient custom! 

“A lobster doesn’t make such a noise when he’s boiled,” chided 
Landmaster. “An oyster doesn’t, and a Xtleconutlico doesn’t. Why should 
a man make such a noise? It would be irritating to us — if we ever let 
anything irritate us.” 

But they didn’t — nothing at all. They were too developed a race to 
allow themselves to be irritated. 

When the Padreco was finally done, they had him out of the kettle and 
polished him off. They dealt in the prescribed manner with the ancient 
menace, and they had a superb feast out of it too. 

The Anabi weren’t quite what they seemed. They had hid from 
themselves, and dealt in shadows instead of things. They had even 
changed the name of their nature... but they hadn’t changed their nature. 

But on occasion they could still revert. They could stage an old-time, 
red-blooded, slumgullion-slurping, bone-gnawing dangeroo of a feast. 
Men and monsters, they did have one now! 

Citizens, that Padreco had good stuff in him! 



As I am now utterly without hope, lost to my mission and lost in the 
sight of my crew, I will record what petty thoughts I may have for what 
benefit they may give some other starfarer. Nine long days of bickering! 
But the decision is sure. The crew will maroon me. I have lost all control 
over them. 

Who would have believed that I would show such weakness when 
crossing the barrier? By all tests I should have been the strongest. But the 
final test was the event itself. I failed. 

I only hope that it is a pleasant and habitable planet where they put 
me down... 

Later. They have decided. I am no longer the captain even in name. 
But they have compassion on me. They will do what they can for my 
comfort. I believe that they have already selected my desert island, so to 
speak, an out-of-the-way globe where they will leave me to die. I will hope 
for the best. I no longer have any voice in their councils... 

Later. I will be put down with only the basic survival kit: the ejection 
mortar and sphere for my last testament to be orbited into the Galactic 
drift; a small cosmoscope so that I will at least have my bearings; one 
change of blood;. An abridged universal language correlator; a 
compendium of the one thousand philosophic questions yet unsolved to 
exercise my mind; a small vial of bug-kill. 

Later. It has been selected. But my mind has grown so demoralized 
that I do not even recognize the system, though once this particular 
region was my specialty. The globe will be habitable. There will be 
breathable atmosphere which will allow me to dispense with much 
bothersome equipment. Here the filler used is nitrogen, yet it will not 
matter. I have breathed nitrogen before. There will be water, much of it 
saline, but sufficient quantities of sweet. Food will be no problem; before 
being marooned, I will receive injections that should last me for the rest 
of my probably short life. Gravity will be within the range of my 

What will be lacking? Nothing, but the companionship of my own 
kind, which is everything. 

What a terrible thing it is to be marooned! 

One of my teachers used to say that the only unforgivable ~n in the 
universe is ineptitude. That I should be the first to succumb to space- 
ineptitude and be an awkward burden on the rest of them! But it would 
be disastrous for them to try to travel any longer with a sick man, 
particularly as their nominal leader. I would be a shadow over them. I 
hold them no rancor. 

It will be today 

Later. I am here. I have no real interest in defining where “here” is, 
though I have my cosmoscope and could easily determine it. I was 
anesthetized a few hours before, and put down here in my sleep. The 
blasted half-acre of their landing is near. No other trace of them is left. 

Yet it is a good choice and not greatly unlike home. It is the nearest 
resemblance I have seen on the entire voyage, which is to say that the 
pseudodendrons are enough like trees to remind me of trees, the herbage 
near enough to grass to satisfy one who had never known real grass. It is 
a green, somewhat waterlogged land of pleasant temperature. 

The only inhabitants I have encountered are a preoccupied race of 
hump-backed browsers who pay me scant notice. They are quadruped 
and myopic, and spend nearly their entire time at feeding. It may be that 
I am invisible to them. Yet they hear my voice and shy away somewhat 
from it. I am able to communicate with them only poorly. Their only 
vocalization is a sort of vibrant windy roar, but when I answer in kind 
they appear more puzzled than communicative. 

They have this peculiarity: when they come to an obstacle of terrain or 
thicket, they either go laboriously around it or force their way through it. 
It does not seem to occur to them to fly over it: They are as gravity-bound 
as a newborn baby. 

What air-traveling creatures I have met are of a consider-ably smaller 
size. They are more vocal than the myopic quadrupeds, and I have had 
some success in conversing with them, but my results still await a more 
leisurely semantic interpretation. Such communications of theirs as I 
have analyzed are quite commonplace. They have no real philosophy and 
are singularly lacking in aspiration; they are almost total extroverts and 
have no more than the rudiments of introspection. 

Yet they have managed to tell me some amusing anecdotes. They are 
quite good natured, though moronic. 

They say that neither they nor the myopic quadrupeds are the 

dominant race here, but rather a large grublike creature lacking a 
complete outer covering. From what they are able to convey of this breed, 
it is a nightmarish kind of creation. One of the flyers even told me that 
the giant grubs travel upright on a bifurcated tail, but that is difficult to 
credit. Besides, I believe that humor is at least a minor component of the 
mentality of my airy friends. I will call them birds, though they are but a 
sorry caricature of the birds at home... 

Later. I am being hunted. I am being hunted by the giant grubs. 
Doubling back, I have seen them on my trail, examining it with great 

The birds had given me a very inadequate idea of these. They are 
indeed unfinished — they do lack a complete outer covering. Despite their 
giant size, I am convinced that they are grubs, living under rocks and in 
masses of rotten wood. Nothing in nature gives the impression of so 
lacking an outer covering as the grub, that obese, unfinished worm. 

There are, however, simple bipeds. They are wrapped in a cocoon 
which they seem never to have shed, as though their emergence from the 
larval state were incomplete. It is a loose artificial sheath covering the 
central portion of the corpus. They seem unable to divest themselves of it, 
though it is definitely not a part of the body. When I have analyzed their 
minds, I will know the reason for their carrying it. Now I can only 
conjecture. It would seem a compulsion, some psychological bond that 
dooms them in their apparent adult state to carry their cocoons with 

Later. I am captured by three of the giant grubs. I had barely time to 
swallow my communication sphere. They pinned me down and beat me 
with sticks. I was taken by surprise and was not momentarily able to solve 
their language, though it came to me after a short interval. It was 
discordant and vocal and entirely gravity-bound, by which I mean that its 
thoughts were chained to its words. There seemed nothing in them above 
the vocal. In this the giant grubs were less than the birds, even though 
they had a practical power and cogency that the birds lacked. 

“What’ll we do with the blob?” asked one. 

“Hy,” said the second, “you hit it on that end and I’ll hit it on this. We 
don’t know which end is the head.” 

“Let’s try it for bait,” said the third. “Catfish might go for it.” 

“We could keep it alive till we’re ready to use it. Then it would stay 


‘is. “No, let’s kill it. It doesn’t look too fresh, even the way it 
“Gentlemen, you are making a mistake,” I said. “I have done nothing to 
merit death. And I am not without talent. Besides, you have not 
considered the possibility that I may be forced to kill you three instead. I 
will not die willingly. And I will thank you to stop pounding on me with 
those sticks. It hurts.” 

I was surprised and shocked at the sound of my own voice. It was 
nearly as harsh as that of the grubs. But this was my first attempt at their 
language, and musicality does not become it. 

“Hey fellows, did you hear that? Was that the blob talking? Or was one 
of you playing a joke? Harry? Stanley? Have you been practicing to be 

Not me.” “Not me either. It sure sounded like it was it.” 

“Hey blob, was that you? Can you talk, blob?” 

“Certainly I can talk,” I responded. “I am not an infant. Nor am I a 
blob. I am a creature superior to your own kind, if you are examples. Or it 
may be that you are only children. Perhaps you are still in the pupa stage. 
Tell me, is yours an early stage, or an arrested development, or are you 
indeed adult?” 

Hey fellows, we don’t have to take that from any blob. I’ll cave in his 
blasted head.” 

“That isn’t its head, it’s its tail.” 

“Gentlemen, perhaps I can set you straight,” I said. “That is my tail 
you are thwacking with those sticks, and I am warning you to stop it. Of 
course I was talking with my tail. I was only doing it in imitation of you. I 
am new at the language and its manner of speaking. Yet it may be that I 
have made a grotesque mistake. Is that your heads that you are waving in 
the air? Well, then, I will talk with my head, if that is the custom. But I 
warn you again not to hit me on either end with those sticks.” 

“Hey, fellows, I bet we could sell that thing. I bet we could sell it to 
Billy Wilkins for his Reptile Farm.” 

“How would we get it there?” 

“Make it walk. Hey blob, can you walk?” 

“I can travel, certainly, but I would not stagger along precariously on a 
pair of flesh stilts with my head in the air, as you do. When I travel, I do 
not travel upside down.” 

“Well, let’s go then. We’re going to sell you to Billy Wilkins for his 
Reptile Farm. If he can use a blob, he’ll put you in one of the tanks with 
the big turtles and alligators. You think you’ll like them?” 

“I am lonesome in this lost world,” I replied sadly, “and even the 
company of you peeled grubs is better than nothing I am anxious to adopt 
a family and settle down here for what years of life I have left. It may be 
that I will find compatibility with the species you mention. I do not know 
what they are.” 

“Hey, fellows, this blob isn’t a bad guy at all. I’d shake your hands, 
blob, if I knew where they were. Let’s go to Billy Wilkins’s place and sell 


We traveled to Billy Wilkins’s place. My friends were amazed when I 
took to the air and believed that I had deserted them. They had no cause 
to distrust me. Without them I would have had to rely on intuition to 
reach Billy Wilkins, and even then I would lack the proper introductions. 

“Hey, Billy,” said my loudest friend whose name was Cecil, “what will 
you give us for a blob? It flies and talks and isn’t a bad fellow at all. You’d 
get more tourists to come to your reptile show if you had a talking blob in 
it. He could sing song’, and tell stories, and I bet he could play the guitar.” 

“Well, Cecil, I’ll just give you all ten dollars for it and try to figure out 
what it is later. I’m a little ahead on my hunches now, so I can afford to 
gamble on this one. I can always pickle it and exhibit it as a genuine 
hippopotamus kidney.” 

“Thank you, Billy. Take care of yourself, blob.” 

“Good-bye for now, gentlemen,” I said. “I would like you to visit me 
some evening as soon as I am acclimated to my new surroundings. I will 
throw a whing-ding for you — as soon as I find out what a whing-ding is.” 

“My God,” said Billy Wilkins, “it talks, it really talks!” 

“We told you it could talk and fly, Billy.” 

“Talks, it talks,” said Billy. “Where’s that blasted sign painter? 
Eustace, come here. We got to paint a new sign.” 

The turtles in the tank I was put into did have a sound basic 
philosophy which was absent in the walking grubs. But they were slow 
and lacking inner fire. They would not be obnoxious company, but 
neither would they give me excitement and warmth. I was really more 
interested in the walking grubs. 

Eustace was a black grub, while the others had all been white; but like 
them he had no outside casing of his own, and like them he also staggered 
about on flesh stilts with his head in the air. 

It wasn’t that I was naive or hadn’t seen bipeds before. But I don’t 
believe anyone ever becomes entirely accustomed to seeing a biped travel 
in its peculiar manner. 

Good afternoon, Eustace,” I said pleasantly enough. The eyes of 
Eustace were large and white. He was a more handsome specimen than 
the other grubs. 

“That you talking, bub? Say, you really can talk, can’t you? I thought 
Mr. Billy was fooling. Now just hold that expression a minute and let me 

get it set in my mind. I can paint anything, once I get it set in my mind. 
What’s your name, blob? Have blobs names?” 

“Not in your manner. With us the name and the soul, I believe you call 
it, are the same thing and cannot be vocalized. I will have to adopt a name 
of your sort. What would be a good name?” 

“Bob, I was always partial to George Albert Leroy Ellery. That was my 
grandfather’s name.” 

“Should I also have a family name?” 


“What would you suggest?” 

“How about McIntosh?” 

“That will be fine. I will use it.” 

I talked to the turtles while Eustace was painting my portrait on tent 

“Is the name of this world Florida?” I asked one of them. “The road 
signs said Florida.” 

“World, world, world, water, water, water, glub, glug, glub,” said one 
of them. 

“Yes, but is this particular world we are on named Florida?” 

“World, world, water, water, glub,” said another. 

“Eustace, I can get nothing from these fellows,” I called, “is this world 
named Florida?” 

“Mr. George Albert, you are right in the middle of Florida, the greatest 
state in the universe.” 

“Having traveled, Eustace, I have great reservations that it is the 
greatest. But it is my new home and I must cultivate a loyalty to it.” 

I went up in a tree to give advice to two young birds trying to 
construct a nest. This was obviously their first venture. 

“You are going about it all wrong,” I told them. “First consider that 
this will be your home, and then consider how you can make your home 
most beautiful.” 

“This is the way they’ve always built them,” said one of the birds. 

“There must be an element of utility, yes,” I told them. “But the 
dominant motif should be beauty. The impression of expanded vistas can 
be given by long low walls and parapets.” 

This is the way they’ve always built them,” said the other bird. 

Remember to embody all the new developments,” I said. “Just say to 

yourself ‘This is the newest nest in the world.’ Always say that about any 
task you attempt. It inspires you.” 

“This is the way they’ve always built them,” said the birds. “Go build 
your own nest.” 

Mr. George Albert,” called Eustace. “Mr. Billy won’t like your flying 
around those trees. You’re supposed to stay in your tank.” 

“I was only getting a little air and talking to the birds,” I said. 

“You can talk to the birds?” asked Eustace. 

“Cannot anyone?” 

“I can, a little,” said Eustace. “I didn’t know anyone else could.” 

But when Billy Wilkins returned and heard the report that I had been 
lying about, I was put in the snake house, in a cage that was tightly 
meshed top and sides. My cell mate was a surly python named Pete. 

“See you stay on that side,” said Pete. “You’re too big for me to 
swallow. But I might try.” 

“There is something bothering you, Pete,” I said. “You have a bad 
disposition. That can come only from bad digestion or a bad conscience.” 

“I have both,” said Pete. “The first because I bolt my food. The second 
is because — well I forget the reason, but it’s my conscience.” 

“Think hard, Pete,” I said, “why have you a bad conscience.” 

“Snakes always have bad consciences. We have forgotten the crime, 
but we remember the guilt.” 

“Perhaps you should seek advice from someone, Pete.” 

“I kind of think it was someone’s smooth advice that started us on all 
this. He talked the legs right off US.” 

Billy Wilkins came to the cage with another “man” as walking grubs 
call themselves. 

“That it?” asked the other man. “And you say it can talk?” 

“Of course I can talk,” I answered for Billy Wilkins. “I have never 
known a creature who couldn’t talk in some manner. My name is George 
Albert Leroy Ellery McIntosh. I don’t believe that I heard yours, sir.” 

“Bracken. Blackjack Bracken. I was telling Billy here that if he really 
had a blob that could talk, that I might be able to use it in my night club. 
We could have you here at the Snake Ranch in the daytime for the 
tourists and kids. Then I could have you at the club at night. We could 
work out an act. Do you think you could learn to play the guitar?” 

“Probably. But it would be much easier for me merely to duplicate the 


“But then how could you sing and make guitar noises at the same 

“You surely don’t think that I am limited to one voice box?” 

“Oh, I didn’t know. What’s that big metal ball you have there?” 

“That’s my communication sphere to record my thoughts. I would not 
be without it. When in danger, I swallow it. When in extreme danger, I 
will have to escape to a spot where I have concealed my ejection mortar, 
and send my sphere into the Galactic drift on a chance that it may be 

“That’s no kind of gag to put in an act. What I have in mind is 
something like this.” 

Blackjack Bracken told a joke. It was a childish one and in poor taste. 

“I don’t believe that is quite my style,” I said. 

“All right, what would you suggest?” 

“I thought that I might lecture your patrons on the higher ethic.” 

Look, George Albert, my patrons don’t even have the lower ethic.” 

“And just what sort of recompense are we talking about?” I asked. 

“Billy and I had about settled on a hundred and fifty a week.” 

“A hundred and fifty for whom?” 

“Why, for Billy.” 

“I say a hundred and fifty for myself, and ten percent for Billy as my 

“Say, this blob’s real smart, isn’t he, Billy?” 

“Too smart.” 

“Yes sir, George Albert, you’re one smart blob. What kind of contract 
have you signed with Billy here?” 

“No contract.” 

“Just a gentlemen’s agreement?” 

“No agreement.” 

“Billy, you can’t hold him in a cage without a contract. That’s slavery. 
It’s against the law.” 

“But, Blackjack, a blob isn’t people.” 

“Try proving that in court. Will you sign a contract with me, George 

“I will not dump Billy. He befriended me and gave me a home with the 
turtles and snakes. I will sign a joint contract with the two of you. We will 

discuss terms tomorrow — after I have estimated the attendance both 
here and at the night club.” 


Of the walking grubs (who call themselves “people”) there are two 
kinds, and they place great emphasis on the difference. From this stems a 
large part of their difficulties. This distinction, which is one of polarity, 
cuts quite across the years and ability and station of life. It is not confined 
only to the people, but also involves apparently all the beings on the 
planet Florida. 

It appears that a person is committed to one or the other polarity at 
the beginning of life, maintaining that polarity until death. The 
interlocking attraction-repulsion complex set up by these two opposable 
types has deep emotional involvements. It is the cause of considerable 
concern and disturbance, as well as desire and inspiration. There is a sort 
of poetic penumbra about the whole thing that tends to disguise its basic 
simplicity, expressible as a simultaneous polarity equation. 

Complete segregation of the two types seems impossible. If it has ever 
been tried, it has now been abandoned as impractical. 

There is indeed an intangible difference between the two types, so that 
before that first day at the Reptile Ranch was finished, I was able to 
differentiate between the two more than ninety percent of the time. The 
knowledge of this difference in polarity seems to be intuitive. 

These two I will call the Beta and Gamma, or Boy and Girl types. I 
began to see that this opposability of the two types was one of the great 
driving forces of the people. 

In the evening I was transported to the night club and I was a success. 
I would not entertain them with blue jokes or blue lyrics, but the patrons 
seemed fascinated by my simple imitations of all the instruments of the 
orchestra and my singing of comic ballads that Eustace had taught me in 
odd moments that day. They were also interested in the way that I drank 
gin, that is emptying the bottle without breaking the seal. (It seems that 
the grub-people are unable to absorb a liquid without making direct 
contact with it.) 

And I met Margaret, one of the “girl” singers. I had been wondering to 
which type of people I might show amnity. Now I knew. I was definitely a 
Beta type, for I was attracted to Margaret, who was unmistakably a 
Gamma. I began to understand the queer effect that these types have on 
each other. 

She came over to my cage. 

“I want to rub your head for luck before I go on,” she said. 

Thank you, Margaret,” I replied, “but that is not my head.” 

She sang with incomparable sadness, with all the sorrow and 
sordidness that appear to he the lot of the unfortunate Gammas. It was 
the essence of melancholy made into music. It was a little bit like the 
ghost music of the asteroid Artemis, a little like the death chants on 
Dolmena. Sex and sorrow. Nostalgia. Regret. 

Her singing shook me with a yearning that had no precedent. 

She came back to my cage. 

“You were wonderful, Margaret,” I said. 

“I’m always wonderful when I’m singing for my supper. I am less 
wonderful in the rare times when I am well fed. But are you happy, little 

“I had become almost so, till I heard you sing. Now I am overcome 
with a sorrow and longing. Margaret, I am fascinated with you.” 

“I go for you too, blob. You’re my buddy. Isn’t it funny that the only 
buddy I have in the world is a blob. But if you’d seen some of the guys I’ve 
been married to — boy! I wouldn’t insult you by calling them blobs. Have 
to go now. See you tomorrow night if they keep us both on. 

Now there was a problem to face. It was necessary that I establish 
control over my environment, and at once. How else could I aspire to 

I knew that the heart of the entire place here was neither the bar nor 
the entertainment therein, nor the cuisine, nor the dancing. The heart of 
the enterprise was the casino. Here was the money that mattered; the rest 
was but garnish. 

I had them bring me into the gambling rooms. 

I had expected problems of complexity here where the patrons worked 
for their gain or loss. Instead there was an almost amazing simplicity. All 
the games were based on a system of first aspect numbers. Indeed 
everything on the Planet Florida seemed based on first aspect numbers. 

Now it is an elemental fact that first aspect numbers do not carry 
within them their own prediction. Nor were the people even possessed of 
the prediction key that lies over the very threshold of the second aspect 

These people were actually wagering sums — the symbols of 
prosperity — blindly, not knowing for sure whether they would win or 

lose. They were selecting numbers by hunch or at random with no 
assurance of profit. They were choosing a hole for a ball to fall into 
without knowing whether that was the right hole. 

I do not believe that I was ever so amazed at anything in my life. 

But here was an opportunity to establish control over my 

I began to play the games. Usually I would watch a round first, to be 
sure that I understood just what was going on. Then I would play a few 
times... as many as it took to break the game. 

I broke game after game. When he could no longer pay me, Blackjack 
closed the casino in exasperation. 

Then we played poker, he and I and several others. This was even 
more simple. I suddenly realized that the grub-people could see only one 
side of the cards at a time. 

I played and won. 

I owned the casino now, and all of those people were now working for 
me. Billy Wilkins also played with us, and in short order I also owned the 
Reptile Ranch. 

Before the evening was over, I owned a race-track, a beach hotel, and 
a theatre in a place named New York. 

I had, in sufficient extent for my purpose, established control over my 

Later. Now started the golden days. I increased my control and did 
what I could for my friends. 

I got a good doctor for my friend and roommate the python, and he 
was now receiving treatment for his indigestion. I got a jazzy sports car 
for my friend Eustace imported from somewhere called Italy. And I 
buried Margaret in mink, for she had a fix on the fur of that mysterious 
animal. She enjoyed draping it about her in the form of coats, capes, 
cloaks, mantles, and stoles, though the weather didn’t really require it. 

I had now several banks, a railroad, an airline, and a casino in 
somewhere named Havana. 

“You are somebody now,” said Margaret. “You really ought to dress 
better. Or are you dressed? I never know. I don’t know if part of that is 
clothes or if all of it is you. But at least I’ve learned which is your head. I 
think we should be married in May. It’s so common to be married in 
June. Just imagine me being Mrs. George Albert Leroy Ellery McIntosh! 

You know, we have become quite an item. And do you know there are 
three biographies of you out, Burgeoning Blob; The Blow from Way Out; 
The Hidden Hand Behind the Blob, What Does It Portend? And the 
Governor has invited us to dine tomorrow. I do wish you would learn to 
eat. If you weren’t so nice, you’d be creepy. I always say there’s nothing 
wrong with marrying a man, or a blob, with money. It shows foresight on 
the part of a girl. You know you will have to get a blood test? You had 
better get it tomorrow. You do have blood, don’t you?” 

I did, but not, of course, of the color and viscosity of hers. But I could 
give it that color and viscosity temporarily. And it would react negative in 
all the tests. 

She mused, “They are all jealous of me. They say they wouldn’t marry 
a blob. They mean they couldn’t. Do you have to carry that tin ball with 
you all the time?” 

“Yes. It is my communication sphere. In it I record my thoughts. I 
would be lost without it.” 

“Oh, like a diary. How quaint.” 

Yes, those were the golden days. The grubs now appeared to me in a 
new light, for was not Margaret also a grub? Yet she seemed not so 
unfinished as the rest. Though lacking a natural outer covering, yet she 
had not the appearance of crawling out from under a rock. She was quite 
an attractive “girl.” And she cared for me. 

What more could I wish? I was affluent. I was respected. I was in 
control of my environment. And I could aid my friends of whom I had 
now acquired an astonishing number. 

Moreover my old space-ineptitude sickness had left me. I never felt 
better in my life. Ah, golden days, one after the other like a pleasant 
dream. And soon I am to he married. 


There has been a sudden change. As on the Planet Hecube, where full 
summer turns into the dead of winter in minutes, to the destruction of 
many travelers, so was it here. My world is threatened! 

It is tottering, all that I have built up. I will fight. I will fight. I will 
have the best lawyers on the planet. I am not done. But I am threatened 

Later. This may be the end. The appeal court has given its decision. A 
blob may not own property in Florida. A blob is not a person. 

Of course I am not a person. I never pretended to he. But I am a 
personage. I will yet fight this thing... 

Later. I have lost everything. The last appeal is gone. By definition I 
am an animal of indeterminate origin, and my property is being 
completely stripped from me. 

I made an eloquent appeal — and it moved them greatly. There were 
tears in their eyes. But there was greed in the set of their mouths. They 
have a vested interest in stripping me. Each will seize a little. 

And I am left a pauper, a vassal, an animal, a slave. This is always the 
last doom of the marooned, to be a despised alien at the mercy of a 
strange world. 

Yet it should not be hopeless. I will have Margaret. Since my contract 
with Billy Wilkins and Blackjack Bracken, long since bought up, is no 
longer in effect, Margaret should be able to handle my affairs as a person. 
I believe that I have great earning powers yet, and I can win as much as I 
wish by gambling. We will treat this as only a technicality. We shall 
acquire new fortune. I will re-establish control over my environment. I 
will bring back the golden days. A few of my old friends are still loyal to 
me, Margaret, Pete the python, Eustace... 

Later. The world has caved in completely. Margaret has thrown me 

“I’m sorry, blobby,” she said, “but it just won’t work. You’re still nice, 
but without money you are only a blob. How would I marry a blob?” 

“But we can earn more money. I am talented.” 

“No, you’re box-office poison now. You were a fad, and fads die 

“But Margaret, I can win as much as I wish by gambling.” 

“Not a chance, blobby. Nobody will gamble with you any more. You’re 
through, blob. I will miss you, though. There will be a new blue note in 

my ballads when I sing for my supper, after the mink coats are all gone. 
Bye now.” 

“Margaret, do not leave me. What of all our golden days together?” 

But all she said was “bye now.” And she was gone forever. 

I am desolate and my old space-ineptitude sickness has returned. My 
recovery was an illusion. I am so ill with awkwardness that I can no 
longer fly. I must crawl on the ground like one of the giant grubs. A curse 
on this planet Florida, and all its sister orbs! What a miserable world this 

How could I have been taken in by a young Gamma type of the 
walking grub? Let her crawl back under her ancestral rocks with all the 
rest of her kind... No, no, I do not mean that. To me she will always 
remain a dream, a broken dream. I am no longer welcome at the casino. 
They kicked me down the front steps. 

I no longer have a home at the Reptile Ranch. 

“Mr. George Albert,” said Eustace, “I just can’t afford to be seen with 
you any more. I have my position to consider, with a sport car and all 
that.” ‘ 

And Pete the python was curt. 

“Well, big shot, I guess you aren’t so big after all. And you were sure 
no friend of mine. When you had that doctor cure me of my indigestion, 
you left me with nothing but my bad conscience. I wish I could get my 
indigestion back.” 

“A curse on this world,” I said. 

“World, world, water, water, glug, glug,” said the turtles in their tanks, 
my only friends. 

So I have gone back into the woods to die. I have located my ejection 
mortar, and when I know that death is finally on me, I will fire off my 
communication sphere and hope it will reach the Galactic drift. Whoever 
finds it — friend, space traveler, you who were too impatient to remain on 
your own world — be you warned of this one! Here ingratitude is the rule 
and cruelty the main sport. The unfinished grubs have come out from 
under their rocks and they walk this world upside down with their heads 
in the air. Their friendship is fleeting, their promises are like the wind. 

I am near my end. 


He had flared up more brightly than anyone in memory. And then he 
was gone. Yet there was ironic laughter where he had been; and his ghost 
still walked. That was the oddest thing: to encounter his ghost. 

It was like coming suddenly on Halley’s Comet drinking beer at the 
Plugged Nickle Bar, and having it deny that it was a celestial 
phenomenon at all, that it had ever been beyond the sun. 

For he could have been the man of the century, and now it was not 
even known if he was alive. And if he were alive, it would be very odd if he 
would be hanging around places like the Plugged Nickel Bar. 

This all begins with the award. But before that it begins with the man. 

Professor Aloys Foulcault-Oeg was acutely embarrassed and in a state 
of dread. 

“These I have to speak to, all these great men. Is even glory worth the 
price when it must be paid in such coin?” 

Aloys did not have the amenities, the polish, the tact. A child of 
penury, he had all his life eaten bread that was part sawdust, and worn 
shoes that were part card-board. He had an overcoat that had been his 
father’s, and before that his grandfather’s, willed for generations to the 
eldest son. 

This coat was no longer handsome, its holes being stuffed and quilted 
with ancient rags. It was long past its years of greatness, and even when 
Aloys had inherited it as a young man it was in the afternoon of its life. 
And yet it was worth more than anything else he owned in the world. 

Professor Aloys had become great in spite of — or because of? — his 
poverty. He had worked out his finest theory, a series of nineteen 
interlocked equations of cosmic shapeliness and simplicity. He had 
worked it out on a great piece of butchers’ paper soaked with lamb’s 
blood, and had so given it to the world. 

And once it was given, it was almost as though nothing else could be 
added on any subject whatsoever. Any further detailing would be only 
footnotes to it and ~ the sciences no more than commentaries. 

Naturally this made him famous. But the beauty of it was that it made 
him famous, not to the commonalty of mankind (this would have been a 
burden to his sensitively tuned soul), but to a small and scattered class of 
extremely erudite men (about a score of them in the world). By them his 

worth was recognized, and their recognition brought him almost 
comPLete satisfaction. 

But he was not famous in his own street or his own quarter. And it 
was in this stark conglomerate of dark-souled alleys and roofs that 
Professor Aloys had lived all his life till just thirty-seven days ago. 

When he received the announcement, award, and invitation, he 
quickly calculated the time. It was not very long to allow for traveling 
halfway around the world. Being locked out of his rooms, as he often was, 
he was unencumbered with baggage or furniture, and he left for the 
ceremony at once. 

With the announcement, award, and invitation, there had also been a 
check; but as he was not overly familiar with the world of finance or with 
the English language in which the check was drawn, he did not recognize 
it for what it was. Having used the back of it to write down a formula that 
had crept into his mind, he shoved the check, forgotten, into one of the 
pockets of his greatcoat. 

For three days he rode the riverboat to the port city hidden and 
hungry. There he concealed himself on an ocean tramp. That he did not 
starve on this was due to the caprice of certain lowlifes who discovered 
him, for they made him stay hidden in a terrible bunker, and every day 
they passed in a bucket to him. And sometimes this contained food. But 
sometimes offal. 

Then, several ports and many days later, he left the ship like a 
crippled, dirty animal. And it was in That City and on That Day. For the 
award was to be that evening. 

“All these I have to speak to, all these wonderful men who are higher 
than the grocers, higher even than the butchers. These men get more 
respect than a policeman, than a canal boat captain. They are wiser than a 
mayor and more honored than a merchant. They know arts more 
intricate than a clock-maker’s and are virtuous beyond the politicians. 
More perspicacious than editors, more talented than actors, these are the 
great men of the world. And I am only Aloys, and now I am too ragged 
and dirty even to be Aloys anymore. I am no longer a man with a name.” 

For he was very humble as he walked the great town where even the 
shop girls dressed like princesses, and all the restaurants were so fine 
that only the rich people would have dared to go into them at all. Had 
there been poor people (and there were none) there would have been no 

place for them to eat. They would have starved. 

“But it is to me that they have given the prize. Not to Schellendore and 
not to Ottleman, not to Francks nor Timiryaseff, not even to Piritim-Kess, 
the latchet of whose shoe I am not — but why do I say that? — he is not 
after all very bright — all of them are inadequate in some way-the only 
one who was ever able to get to the heart of these great things was Aloys 
Foulcault-Oeg, who happens to be myself. It is a strange thing that they 
should honor me, and yet I believe they could not have made a better 

So pride and fear warred in him, but it was always the pride that lost. 
For he had only a little bit of pride, undernourished and on quaking 
ground, and against it were a whole legion of fears, apprehensions, 
shames, dreads, embarrassments, and nightmarish bashfulnesses. 

He begged a little bit when he found a poor part of town. But even 
here the people were of the rich poor, not of the poor as he had known 

When he had money in his pocket, he had a meal. Then he went to the 
Jiffy Quick While You Wait Cleaners Open Day and Night to have his 
clothes cleaned. He wrapped himself in dignity and a blanket while he 
waited, as many years before he had had to forego the luxury of 
underclothes. And as the daylight was coming to an end they brought his 
clothes back to him. 

“We have done all we could do,” they told him. “If we had a day or a 
week or a month we might do a little more, but not much. We have not 
done anything at all to the greatcoat. The workers were afraid of it. They 
said it barked at them.” 

“Yes, sometimes it will do that.” 

Then he went out into the town, cleaner than he had been in many 
days, and he walked to the hall of the Commendation and Award. Here he 
watched all the great men arrive in private cars and taxis: Ergodic Eimer, 
August Angstrom, Vladimir Vor. He watched them and thought of what 
he would say to them, and then he realized that he had forgotten his 

“I remember Sir or Madam as the Case May Be. I remember Dog, that 
is the first word I ever learned, but what will I say to them about a dog? I 
remember house and horse and apple and fish. Oh, now I remember the 
entire language. But what if I forget it again? Would it not be an odd 

speech if I could only say apple and fish and house and dog? I would be 

He wished he were rich and could dress in fine white like the 
streetsweepers, or in black leather like the newsboy on the corner. He saw 
Edward Edelsteim and Christopher Cronin enter and he cowed on the 
street and knew that he would never be able to talk to those great men. 

A fine gentleman came out and walked directly to him. 

“You are the great Professor Foulcault-Oeg? I would have known you 
anywhere. True greatness shines from you. 9ur city is honored tonight. 
Come inside and we will go to a little room apart, for I see that you will 
have to compose yourself first. I am Graf-Doktor Hercule Bienville- 

Why he ever said he was the Graf-Doktor is a mystery, because he was 
Willy McGilly and the other was just a name that he made up that 

Within they went to a small room behind the cloak room. But here, in 
spite of the smooth kindness of the gracious gentleman, Aloys knew that 
he would never be able to compose himself. He was an epouvantail, a 
pugalo, a clown, a ragamuffin. He looked at the nineteen-point outline of 
the address he was to give. He shuddered and quaked, he gobbled like a 
turkey. He sniffled and he wiped his nose on his sleeve. He was terrified 
that the climax of his life’s work should find him too craven to accept it. 
And he discovered that he had forgotten his English again. 

“I remember bread and butter, but I don’t know which one goes on 
top. I know pencil and penknife and bed, but I have entirely forgotten the 
word for maternal uncle. I remember plow, but what in the world will I 
say to all those great men about a plow? I pray that this cup may pass 
from me. 

Then he disintegrated completely in one abject mass of terror. 

Several minutes went by. 

But when he emerged from that room he was a different man entirely. 
Erect, alive, intense, queerly handsome, and now in formal attire, he 
mounted with the sure grace of a panther to the speaker’s platform. 

Once only he glanced at the nineteen-point outline of his address. As 
there is no point in keeping it a secret, it was as follows: 1. Cepheid and 
Cerium — How long is a Yardstick? 2. Double Trouble — Is Ours a Binary 
Universe? 3. Cerebrum and Cortex — The Mathematics of Melanchoha. 4. 

Microphysics and Megacyclic Polyneums. 5. Ego, No, Hemeis — The 
Personality of the Subconscious. 6. Linear Convexity and Lateral 
Intransigence. 7. Betelgeuse Betrayed — The Myth of Magnitude. 8. Mu- 
Meson, the Secret of the Metamorphosis. 9. Theogony and Tremor — The 
Mathematics of Seismology. 10. Planck’s Constant and Agnesi’s Variable. 
11. Diencephalon and Di-Gamma — Unconscionable Thoughts About 
Consciousness. 12. Inverse Squares and the Quintesimal Radicals. 13. The 
Chain of Error in the Linear-B Translation — Or Where the Cretans 
Really Came From. 14. Cybernetics — Or a Brain for Every Man. 15. Ogive 
and Volute — Thoughts of Celestial Curvature. 16. Conic Sections — Small 
Pieces of Infinity. 17. Eschatology — Medium Thoughts About the End. 
18. Hypolarity and Cosmic Hysterisis. 19. The Invisible Quadratic — or 
This Is All Simpler Than You Think. 

You will immediately see the beauty of this skeleton, and yet to flesh it 
would not be the work of an ordinary man. 

He glanced over it with a sure smile of complete confidence. Then he 
spoke softly to the master of ceremonies in a queer whisper with a rumble 
in it that could be heard throughout the Hall. 

“I am here. I will begin. There is no need for any further introduction. 
It will be late by the time I finish.” 

For the next three and a half hours he held that intelligent audience 
completely spellbound, enchanted. They followed, or seemed to follow, 
his lightning flashes of metaphor illumining the craggy chasms of his 
vasty subjects. 

They thrilled to the magnetic power of his voice, urbane yet untamed, 
with its polyglot phrasing and its bare touch of accent so strange as to be 
baffling; ancient surely and European, and yet from a land beyond the 
pale. And they quivered with interior pleasure at the glorious unfolding in 
climax after climax of these before only half-glimpsed vistas. 

Here was the world of mystery revealed in all its wildness, and it 
obeyed and stood still, and he named its name. The nebula and the conch 
lay down together, and the ultra-galaxies equated themselves with the 
zeta mesons. Like the rich householder, he brought from his store 
treasures old and new, and nothing like them had ever been seen or heard 

At one point Professor Timiryaseff cried out in bafflement and 
incomprehension, and Doctor Ergodic Eimer buried his face in his hands, 

for even these most erudite men could not glimpse all the shattering 
profundity revealed by the fantastic speaker. 

And when it was over they were delighted that so much had been 
made known to them like a great free gift. They had the crown without 
the cross, and the odd little genius had filled them all with a rich glow. 

The rest was perfunctory: commendations and testimonials from all 
the great men. The trophy, heavy and rich but not flashy, worth the 
lifetime salary of a professor of mathematics, was accepted almost 
carelessly. And then the cup was passed quietly, which is to say the tall 
cool glasses went around as the men lingered and talked with hushed 

“Gin,” said the astonishing orator. “It is the drink of the bums and 
impoverished scholars, and I am both. Yes, anything at all with it.” 

Then he spoke to Maecenas, who was at his side, the patron who was 
footing the bill for all this gracious extravagance. 

“The check I have never cashed, having been much in movement since 
I have received it. And as to me it is a large amount, though perhaps not 
to others, and as you yourself have signed it, I wonder if you would cash it 
for me now. 

“At once,” said Maecenas, “at once. Ten minutes and we shall have the 
sum here. Ah, you have endorsed it with a formula! Who but the 
Professor Aloys Foulcault-Oeg could be so droll? Look, he has endorsed it 
with a formula.” 

“Look, look, let us copy. Why, this is marvelous. It takes us even 
beyond his great speech of tonight. The implications of it!” 

“Oh, the implications!” they said as they copied it off, and the 
implications rang in their heads like bells of the future. 

Now it has suddenly become very late, and the elated little man with 
the gold and gemmed trophy under one arm and the packet of bank notes 
in his pocket disappeared as by magic. 

Maecenas went to his villa in the province, which is to say Long 
Island. And all the Professors, Doctors, and erudite gentlemen went to 
their homes and lodgings. 

But later, and after the excitement had worn off, none of them 
understood a thing about it at all, not even those who had comprehended 
part of it before the talk. And this was odd. 

They’d been spooked. 

Professor Aloys Foulcault-Oeg was not seen again; or, if seen, he was 
not known, for hardly anyone would have known his face. In fact, when 
he had painfully released the bonds by which he had been tied in the little 
room behind the back room, and had removed the shackles from his 
ankles, he did not pause at all. Not for many blocks did he even remove 
the gag from his mouth, not realizing in his confusion what it was that 
obstructed his speech and breathing. But when he got it out it was a 
pleasant relief. 

A kind gentleman took him in hand, the second to do so that night. He 
was bundled into a kind of taxi and driven to a mysterious quarter called 
Wreckville. And deep inside a secret building he was given a bath and a 
bowl of hot soup. And later he gathered with others at the festive board. 

Here Willy McGilly was king. As he worked his way into his cups, with 
the gold trophy in front of him, he expounded and elucidated. 

“I was wonderful. I held them in the palm of my hand. Was I not 
wonderful, Oeg?” 

“I could not hear all, for I was on the floor of the little room. But from 
what I could hear, yes, you were wonderful.” 

It wasn’t supposed that Aloys made that speech, was it? It was stated 
that when he came out of that room he was a different man entirely. 
Nobody but Willy McGilly would give a talk like that. 

“Only once in my life did I give a better speech,” said Willy. “It was the 
same speech, but it was newer then. That was in Little Dogie, New 
Mexico, and I was selling a snake-oil derivative whose secret I yet cannot 
reveal. But I was good tonight and some of them cried. And now what will 
you do, Oeg? Do you know what we are?” 


“Why, so we are!” 


“The very word.” 

“Lowlife con men. And the world you live on is not the one you were 
born on. I will join you if I may.” 

“Oeg, you have a talent for going to the core of the apple.” 

For when a man (however unlikely a man) shows real talent, then the 
Wreckville bunch have to recruit him They cannot have uncontrolled 
talent running loose in the commonalty of mankind. 


“The sea is ugly,” said Sour John, “and it’s peculiar that I’m the only 
one who ever noticed it. There have been millions of words written on the 
sea, but nobody has written this. For a time I thought it was just my 
imagination, that it was only ugly to me. Then I analyzed it and found 
that it really is ugly. 

“It is foul. It is dirtier than a cesspool; yet men who would not 
willingly bathe in a cesspool will bathe in it. It has the aroma of an open 
sewer; yet those who would not make a pilgrimage to a sewer will do so to 
the sea. It is untidy; it is possibly the most untidy thing in the world. And 
I doubt if there is any practical way to improve it. It cannot be drained; it 
cannot be covered up; it can only be ignored. 

“Everything about it is ignoble. Its animals are baser than those of the 
land. Its plant life is rootless and protean. It contaminates and wastes the 
shores. It is an open grave where the living he down with dead.” 

“It does smell a little, Sour John, and it is untidy. But I don’t think it’s 
ugly. You cannot deny that sometimes it is really beautiful.” 

“I do deny it. It has no visual beauty. It is monotonous, with only four 
or five faces, and all of them coarse. The sun and the sky over it may be 
beautiful; the land that it borders may be fair; but the old sewer itself is 

“Then why are you the only one who thinks so?” 

“There could be several reasons. One, that I’ve long suspected, is that 
I’m smarter than other people. And another is that mankind has just 
decided to deny this ugliness for subconscious reasons, which is to say for 
no reason at all. The sea is a lot like the subconscious. It may even be the 
subconscious; that was the teaching of the Thalassalogians. The Peoples 
of the Plains dreamed of the Sea before they visited it. They were guilty 
dreams. They knew the sea was there, and they were ashamed of it. The 
Serpent in the Garden was a Hydra, a water snake. He ascended the river 
to its source to prove that nothing was beyond his reach. That is the 
secret we have always to live with: that even the rivers of Paradise flow 
finally into that evil grave. We are in rhythm with the old ocean: it rises 
irregularly twice in twenty-four hours, and then repents of rising; and so 
largely do we.” 

“Sour John, I will still love the sea though you say it is ugly.” 

“So will 1.1 did not say I did not love it. I only said it was ugly. It is an 
open secret that God was less pleased with the sea than with anything 
else he made. His own people, at least, have always shunned it. 

“o, they use it, and several times they have nearly owned it. But they 
do not go to sea as seamen. In all history there have been only three 
Jewish seamen. One was in Solomon’s navy; he filled a required berth, 
and was unhappy. One served a Caliph in the tenth century; why I do not 
know. And the third was Moysha Uferwohner.” 

“Then let us hear about Moysha.” 

“Moysha was quite a good man. That is what makes it sad. And the 
oddest thing is what attracted him to the evil sea. You could not guess it 
in ten years.” 

“Not unless it was a waterfront woman.” 

“That is fantastic. Of all unlikely things that would seem the most 
unlikely. And yet it’s the truth and you hit it at once. Not a woman in 
being, however, but in potential (as the philosophers have it); which is to 
say, quite a young girl. 

“Likely you have run across her. So I will tell it all.” 

This begins ten years ago. Moysha was then a little short of his 
majority, and was working with his father in an honorable trade not 
directly connected with the sea, that of the loan shark. But they often 
loaned money to seamen, a perilous business, for which reason the rates 
were a little higher than you might expect. 

Moysha was making collections and picking up a little new trade. This 
took him to the smell of the sea, which was painful to him, as to any 
sensible man. And it took him to the Blue Fish, a water front cafe, bar, 
and lodging house. 

A twelve-year-old girl, a cripple, the daughter of the proprietor, was 
playing the piano. It was not for some time, due to the primacy of other 
matters, that Moysha realized that she was playing atrociously. Then he 
attempted to correct it. “Young lady, one should play well or not at all. 
Please play better, or stop. That is acutely painful.” 

She looked as though she were going to cry, and this disconcerted 
Moysha, though he did not know why it did. Half an hour later the fact 
intruded itself on his consciousness that she was still playing, and still 
playing badly; but now with a stilted sort of badness. 

“Young lady, this is past all bearing. I suggest that you stop playing 

the damned thing and go to your bed. Or go anywhere and do anything. 
But this is hideous. Stop it!” 

The little girl really did cry then. And as a result of it Moysha got into 
an altercation, got his head bloodied, and was put out of the place; the 
first time that such a thing had ever happened to him. Then he realized 
that the seamen liked the little girl, and liked the way she played the 

This does not seem like a good beginning for either a tender love or a 
great passion. But it had to be the beginning; that was the first time they 
ever saw each other. 

For the next three days Moysha was restless. A serpent was eating at 
his liver and he could not identify it. He began to take a drink in the 
middle of the day (it had not been his custom); and on the third day he 
asked for rum. There was a taste in his mouth and he was trying to match 
it. And in the inner windings of his head there was an awful smell, and it 
made him lonesome. 

By the evening of the third day the terrible truth came to him: he had 
to go down for another whiff of that damned sea; and he possibly could 
not live through another night unless he heard that pretty little girl play 
the piano again. 

Bonny was pretty. She had a wise way with her, and a willful look. It 
was as though she had just decided not to do something very mean, and 
was a little sorry that she hadn’t. 

She didn’t really play badly; just, out of tune and as nobody else had 
ever played, with a great amount of ringing in the ballad tunes and a 
sudden muting, then a sort of clashing and chiming. But she stopped 
playing when she saw that Moysha was in the room. 

Moysha did not get on well at the Blue Fish. He didn’t know how to 
break into the conversation of the seamen, and in his embarrassment he 
ordered drink after drink. When finally he became quarrelsome (as he 
had never been before) they put him out of the place again. 

Moysha lay on a dirty tarp out on a T head and listened while Bonny 
played the piano again. Then she stopped. She had probably been sent to 

But instead she came out to the T head where he was. 

“You old toad, you give me the creeps. 

“I do, little girl?” 

“Sure you do. And papa says ‘Don’t let that Yehude in the place again, 
he makes everybody nervous, if someone wants to borrow money from 
him let them borrow it somewhere else.’ Even the dogs growl at you down 

“I know it.” 

“Then why do you come here?” 

“Tonight is the only time I ever did come except on business.” 

“Tonight is what I am talking about.” 

“I came down to see you.” 

“I know you did, dear, o, I didn’t mean to call you that. I call 
everybody that.” 

“Do you want to take it back?” 

“No, I don’t want to take it back. You old toad, why aren’t you a 
seaman like everybody else?” 

“Is everybody else a seaman?” 

“Everybody that comes to the Blue Fish. How will you come to the 
Fish now when Papa won’t let you in the place?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“If you give me one of your cards I’ll call you up.” 


“And if you give me two dollars and a half I’ll pay you back three 
dollars and a quarter Saturday.” 


“I can’t play the piano any other way. If you were a seaman I bet you’d 
like the way I play the piano. Good night, you old toad.” 

“Good night, Bonny.” 

And it was then that the dismal thought first came to Moysha: “What 
if I should be a seaman after all?” 

Now this was the most terrible thing he could have done. He could 
have become a Christian, he could have married a tramp, he could have 
been convicted of embezzlement. But to leave his old life for the sea 
would be more than he could stand and more than his family could stand. 

And there was no reason for it: only that a twelve-year-old girl looked 
at him less kindly than if he had been a seaman. It is a terrible and empty 
thing to go to sea: all order is broken up and there are only periods of 
debauchery and boredom and work and grinding idleness, and the 
sickening old pond and its dirty borders. It was for such reasons that 

Moysha hesitated for three months. 

Bonny came to see him for possibly the tenth time. She was now 
paying him interest of sixty cents a week on an old debt which, in the 
normal state of affairs, she would never be able to clear. 

“Bonny, I wish there was something that I could say to you.” 

“You can say anything you want to me.” 

“o Bonny, you don’t know what I mean.” 

“You want to bet I don’t?” 

“Bonny, what will you be doing in four years?” 

“I’ll be getting married to a seaman if I can find one to take me.” 

“Why shouldn’t one take you?” 

“For a seaman it is bad luck to marry a crippled woman.” 

So on the first day of summer Moysha went off to sea as a lowly wiper. 
It broke his heart and shamed his 

family. He woke and slept in misery for the foulness of the life. He ate 
goy food and sinned in the ports in attempting to be a salty dog. And it 
was nine weeks before he was back to his home port; and he went to the 
Blue Fish with some other seamen. 

It was afternoon, and Bonny went for a walk with him across the 
peninsula and down to the beach. 

“Well, I’m thunderstruck is all I can say. Why in the world would a 
sensible man want to go to sea?” 

“I thought you liked seamen, Bonny.” 

“I do. But how is a man going to turn into a seaman if he isn’t one to 
start with? A dog could turn into a fish easier. That’s the dumbest thing 
anyone ever did. I had an idea when you came to the place today that you 
turned into a seaman just for me. Did you?” 


“I could be coy and say ‘Why Moysha, I’m only twelve years old,’ but I 
already knew how you felt. I will tell you something. I never did a mean 
thing, and I never saw anybody I wanted to be mean to till I met you. But 
I could be mean to you. It would be fun to ruin you. We aren’t good for 
each other. You oughtn’t to see me ever again.” 

“I have to.” 

“Then maybe I have to be mean to you. It’s for both of us that I ask 
you not to see me again. I don’t want to ruin you, and I don’t want to be a 
mean woman; but I will be if you keep coming around.” 

“Well, I can’t stay away.” 

“Very well, then I’ll be perverse. I’ll shock you every time I open my 
mouth. I’ll tell you that I do filthy things, and you won’t know whether 
I’m lying or not. You won’t know what I mean, and you’ll be afraid to find 
out. You’ll never be able to stay away from me if you don’t stay away now. 
I’ll have husbands and still keep you on a string. You’ll stand outside in 
the dark and look at the light in my window, and you’ll eat your own 
heart. Please go away. I don’t want to turn mean.” 

“But Bonny, it doesn’t have to be that way.” 

“I hope it doesn’t, but it scares me every time I see you. Now I’ll make 
a bargain with you. If you try to stay away I’ll try to stay good. But if you 
come back again I won’t be responsible. You ought to go back uptown and 
not try to be a seaman any more.” 

After that the little girl went back to the Blue Fish. 

Moysha did not go back uptown. He returned to the sea, and he did 
not visit that port again for a year. And there was a change in him. From 
closer acquaintance he no longer noticed that the sea was foul. Once at 
sunset, for a moment, he found something pleasant about it. He no longer 
sinned excessively in the ports. Ashore he traveled beyond the waterfront 
bars and visited the countries behind and met the wonderful people. He 
got the feel of the rough old globe in his head. In a pension in Holland he 
played chess with another girl, who was not precocious, and who did not 
dread turning into a mean woman. In a pub in Denmark he learned to 
take snuff like the saltiest seaman of them all. In an inn in Brittany he 
was told that the sea is the heritage of the poor who cannot afford the 
land. It was in Brittany that he first noticed that he now walked like an 
old salt. 

After a year he went back to his home port and to the Blue Fish. 

“In a way I’m glad to see you,” said Bonny. “I’ve been feeling contrary 
lately and you’ll give me an excuse. Every morning I wake up and say 
‘This day I’m going to raise hell.’ Then I can’t find anyone to raise hell 
with. All those water rats I like so well that I can’t be mean to them. But I 
bet I know how to be mean to you. Well go get a room and tell me where 
it is, and I’ll come to you tonight.” 

“But you’re only a little girl, and besides you don’t mean it.” 

“Then you’re going to find out if I mean it. I intend to come. If you 
think you love me because I’m pretty and good, then I’ll make you love 

me for a devil. There’s things you don’t even know about, and you’ve been 
a seaman for a year. I’ll make you torture me, and it’ll be a lot worse 
torture to you. I’ll show you what unnatural really means. You’re going to 
be mighty sorry you came back.” 

“Bonny, your humor is cruel.” 

“When did I ever have any humor? And you don’t know if I’m kidding, 
and you never will know. Would you rather I did these things with 
someone else than with you?” 

“Well I will. If you don’t tell me where your room is, I’ll go to someone 
else’s room tonight. I’ll do things so filthy you wouldn’t believe it. And 
even if I don’t go to somebody, I’ll tell you tomorrow that I did.” 

But Moysha would not tell her where his room was. So late that night 
when he left the Blue Fish she followed him. It was fantastic for a grown 
man to walk faster and faster to escape a thirteen-year-old crippled girl, 
and finally to run in panic through the dark streets. But when finally she 
lost him she cried out with surprising kindness: “Goodnight Moysha, I’m 
sorry I was mean.” 

But she wasn’t very sorry, for the next night she was still mean. 

“You see that old man with the hair in his ears? He’s filthy and we 
don’t even understand each other’s language. But he understood what I 
wanted well enough. He’s the one I spent last night with.” 

“Bonny, that’s a he, and it isn’t funny.” 

“I know it isn’t funny. But can you be sure that it’s a he? I only he part 
of the time, and you never know when. Now tonight, if you don’t tell me 
where your room is, I’m going to take either that old red-faced slobberer 
or that black man. And you can follow me, since you run away when I 
follow you, and see that I go with one of them. And you can stand out in 
the street and look up at our light. I always leave the light on.” 

“Bonny, why are you mean?” 

“I wish I knew, Moysha, I wish I knew.” 

After a week of this he went to sea again, and did not come back to his 
home port for two years. He learned of the sea-leaning giants. 

“I do not know the name of this tree,” said Sour John, “though once I 
knew it. This is the time of a story where one usually says it’s time for a 
drink. However, for a long time I have been worried about my parasites 
who are to me almost like my own children, and this constant diet of rum 
and redeye cannot be good for them. I believe if the young lady would fry 

me a platter That’s the nicest present anyone ever gave me. What do you 
call him?” 

“Why, just a snake. Ular, that is, he’s a foreign snake.” 

So he went back to sea and left the little girl there with the snake in 
her hands. 

Bonny was a widow when she was sixteen, as every-one had known 
she would be. It’s no joke about it being bad luck for a seaman to marry a 
cripple. They seldom lose much time in perishing after they do it. Oglesby 
died at sea, as all the Ogburns did; and it was from a trifling illness from 
which he was hardly sick at all. It was many weeks later that Moysha 
heard the news, and then he hurried back to his home port. 

He was too late. Bonny had married again. 

“I thought you’d probably come, and I kind of wanted it to be you. But 
you waited so long, and the summer was half over, that I decided to 
marry Polycarp Melish. I’m halfway sorry I did. He wouldn’t let Ular 
sleep with us, and he killed him just because he bit him on the thumb. 

“But I tell you what you do. What with the bad luck and all, Polycarp 
won’t last many months. Come around earlier next year. I like to get 
married in the springtime. I’ll be a double widow then.” 

“Bonny, that’s a terrible way to talk even when kidding.” 

“I’m not kidding at all. I even have an idea how we can beat the jinx. 
I’ll tell you about it after we get married next year. Maybe a crippled girl 
gets to keep her third husband.” 

“Do you want Polycarp to die?” 

“Of course I don’t. I love him. I love all my husbands, just like I’ll love 
you after I marry you. I can’t help it if I’m bad luck. I told him, and he 
said he already knew it; but he wanted to do it anyhow. Will you bring me 
another snake the next time you’re in port?” 

“Yes. And you can keep the monkey in place of it till I come back. But 
you can’t have the bird yet. I have to keep someone to talk to.” 

“All right. Please come in the spring. Don’t wait till summer again or 
it’ll be too late and I’ll already be married to someone else. But whether 
we get married or not, I’m never going to be mean again. I’m getting too 
old for that.” 

So he went to sea again happier than he ever had before. 

When she was seventeen Bonny was a widow again as everyone had 
known she would be. Polycarp had been mangled and chopped to pieces 

in an unusual accident in the engine room of his ship. 

Moysha heard of it very soon, before it could have been heard of at 
home. And he took council with his talking bird, and with one other, 
technically more human. 

“This other,” said Sour John, “was myself. It was very early spring, 
and Moysha was wondering if it were really best to hurry home and 
marry Bonny. 

“T am not at all superstitious,’ he said. T do not believe that a crippled 
woman is necessarily bad luck to seamen. But I believe that Bonny may 
be bad luck to everyone, including herself.’ 

“We were on a chocolate island of a French flavor and a French name. 
On it were girls as pretty as Bonny, and without her reputation for bad 
luck: girls who would never be either wives or widows. And there is a way 
to go clear around the world from one such place to another. 

“‘The Blue Fish is not necessarily the center of the earth,’ I told him. ‘I 
have always necessarily believed the to be a little left of center. And 
Bonny may not be the queen. But if you think that she is, then for you she 
is so. Nine months, or even a year is not very long to live, and you will be 
at sea most of the time. But if you think a few weeks with the little girl is 
enough, then it is enough for you. A lot of others who will not have even 
that will be dead by next Easter.’ I said this to cheer him up. I was always 
the cheerful type. 

“‘And what do you think?’ Moysha asked the talking bird. 

“‘Sampah,’ said the bird in his own tongue. This means rubbish. But 
whether he meant that the superstition was rubbish, or the idea of 
marrying with a consequent early death was rubbish, is something that is 
still locked up in his little green head.” 

Moysha hurried home to marry Bonny. He brought a brother of Ular 
for a present, and he went at once to the Blue Fish. 

“Well you’re just in time. I was going to have the banns read for me 
and somebody tomorrow, and if you’d been an hour later it wouldn’t have 
been you. 

“I was halfway afraid to come.” 

“You needn’t have been afraid. I told you I knew a way to beat the 
jinx. I’m selling the Blue Fish. I wrote you that Papa was dead. And we’re 
going to take a house uptown and forget the sea.” 

“Forget the sea? How could anyone forget the sea?” 

“Why, you’re only a toy seaman. You weren’t raised to it. When you 
go away from it you won t be a seaman at all. And crippled women are 
only bad luck to seamen, not to other men.” 

“But what would I do? The sea is all I know.” 

“Don’t be a child, Moysha. You hate the sea, remember? You always 
told me that you did. You only went to sea because you thought I liked 
seamen. You know a hundred ways to make a dollar, and you don’t have 
to go near the sea for any of them.” 

So they were married. And they were happy. Moysha discovered that 
Bonny was really an angel. Her devil talk had been a stunt. 

It was worth all five dark years at sea to have her. She was now even 
more lovely than the first night he had seen her. They lived in a house 
uptown in the heart of the city, and were an urbane and civilized couple. 
And three years went by. 

Then one day Bonny said that they ought to get rid of the snake, and 
maybe even the monkey. She was afraid they would bite one of the 
children, or one of the children would bite them. 

The talking bird said that if his friends left he would leave, too. 

“But Bonny,” said Moysha, “these three are all that I have to remind 
me of the years when I was a seaman. 

“You have me, also. But why do you want to be reminded of those 
awful days?” 

“I know what we could do, Bonny. We could buy the Blue Fish again. 
It isn’t doing well. We could live there and run it. And we could have a 
place there for the snake and the monkey and the bird.” 

“Yes, we could have a place for them all, but not for the children. That 
is no place to raise children. I know, and I was raised there. Now my love, 
don’t be difficult. Take the three creatures and dispose of them. And 
remember that for us the sea isn’t even there any more. 

But it was still there when he went down to the Blue Fish to try to sell 
the three creatures to the seaman. An 01(1 friend of his was present and 
was looking for an engineer first class to ship out that very night. And 
there was a great difficulty in selling the creatures. 

He could not sell them unless he put a price on them, and he was 
damned if he’d do that. That was worse than putting a price on his own 
children. He had had them longer than his children, and they were more 
peculiarly his own. He could not sell them. And he could not go home and 

tell his wife that he could not sell them. 

“He went out and sat on the horns of the dilemma and looked at the 
sea. And then his old friend (who coincidentally was myself),” said Sour 
John, “came out and said that he sure did need an engineer first class to 
leave that very night. 

“And then what do you think that Moysha did?” 

“o, he signed on and went back to sea.” 

Sour John was thunderstruck. 

“How did you know that? You’ve hit it again. I never will know how 
you do it. Well, that’s what he did. In the face of everything he left his 
beautiful wife and children, and his clean life, and went to the filthy sea 
again. It’s incredible.” 

“And how is he doing now?” 

“God knows. I mean it literally. Naturally he’s dead. That’s been a year 
You don’t expect a seaman married to a crippled woman to live forever do 

“And how is Bonny?” 

“I went to see her this afternoon; for this is the port where it all 
happened. She had out an atlas and a pencil and piece of string. She was 
trying to measure out what town in the whole country is furthest from the 

“She is lonely and grieves for Moysha, more than for either of her 
other husbands. But o she is lovely! She supports herself and her brood 
by giving piano lessons.” 

“Is there a moral to this?” 

“No. It is an immoral story. And it’s a mystery to me. A man will not 
normally leave a clean home to dwell in an open grave, nor abandon 
children to descend into a sewer, nor forswear a lovely and loving wife to 
go faring on a cesspool, knowing that he will shortly die there as a part of 
the bargain. 

“But that is what he did.” 


Were scientific firsts truly tabulated the name of the Yankee inventor, 
Higgston Rainbird, would surely be without peer. Yet today he is known 
(and only to a few specialists, at that) for an improved blacksmith’s 
bellows in the year 1785, for a certain modification (not fundamental) in 
the moldboard plow about 1805, for a better (but not good) method of 
reefing the lateen sail, for a chestnut roaster, for the Devil’s Claw Wedge 
for splitting logs, and for a nutmeg grater embodying a new safety 
feature; this last was either in the year 1816 or 1817. He is known for 
such, and for no more. 

Were this all that he achieved his name would still be secure. And it is 
secure, in a limited way, to those who hobby in technological history. 

But the glory of which history has cheated him, or of which he cheated 
himself, is otherwise. In a different sense it is without parallel, absolutely 

For he pioneered the dynamo, the steam automobile, the steel 
industry, ferro-concrete construction, the internal combustion engine, 
electric illumination and power, the wireless, the televox, the petroleum 
and petrochemical industries, monorail transportation, air travel, 
worldwide monitoring, fissionable power, space travel, group telepathy, 
political and economic balance; he built a retrogressor; and he made 
great advances towards corporal immortality and the apotheosis of 
mankind. It would seem unfair that all this is unknown of him. 

Even the once solid facts — that he wired Philadelphia for light and 
power in 1799, Boston the following year, and New York two years later — 
are no longer solid. In a sense they are no longer facts. 

For all this there must be an explanation; and if not that, then an 
account at least; and if not that, well-something anyhow. 

Higgston Rainbird made a certain decision on a June afternoon in 
1779 when he was quite a young man, and by this decision he confirmed 
his inventive bent. 

He was hawking from the top of Devil’s Head Mounlain. He flew his 
falcon (actually a tercel hawk) down through the white clouds, and to him 
it was the highest sport in the world. The bird came back, climbing the 
blue air, and brought a passenger pigeon from below the clouds. And 
Higgston was almost perfectly happy as he hooded the hawk. 

He could stay there all day and hawk from above the clouds. Or he 
could go down the mountain and work on his sparker in his shed. He 
sighed as he made the decision, for no man can have everything. There 
was a fascination about hawking. But there was also a fascination about 
the copper-strip sparker. And he went down the mountain to work on it. 

Thereafter he hawked less. After several years he was forced to give it 
up altogether. He had chosen his life, the dedicated career of an inventor, 
and he stayed with it for sixty-five years. 

His sparker was not a success. It would be expensive, its spark was 
uncertain and it had almost no advantage over flint. People could always 
start a fire. If not, they could borrow a brand from a neighbor. There was 
no market for the sparker. But it was a nice machine, hammered copper 
strips wrapped around iron teased with lodestone, and the thing turned 
with a hand crank. He never gave it up entirely. He based other things 
upon it; and the retrogressor of his last years could not have been built 
without it. 

But the main thing was steam, iron, and tools. He made the finest 
lathes. He revolutionized smelting and mining. He brought new things to 
power, and started the smoke to rolling. He made mistakes, he ran into 
dead ends, he wasted whole decades. But one man can only do so much. 

He married a shrew, Audrey, knowing that a man cannot achieve 
without a goad as well as a goal. But he was without issue or disciple, and 
this worried him. 

He built a steamboat and a steamtrain. His was the first steam 
thresher. He cleared the forests with wood-burning giants, and designed 
towns. He destroyed southern slavery with a steampowered cotton 
picker, and power and wealth followed him. 

For better or worse he brought the country up a long road, so there 
was hardly a custom of his boyhood that still continued. Probably no one 
man had ever changed a country so much in his lifetime. 

He fathered a true machine-tool industry, and brought rubber from 
the tropics and plastic from the laboratory. He pumped petroleum, and 
used natural gas for illumination and steam power. He was honored and 
enriched; and, looking back, he had no reason to regard his life as wasted. 

“Yes, I’ve missed so much. I wasted a lot of time. If only I could have 
avoided the blind alleys, I could have done many times as much. I 
brought machine tooling to its apex. But I neglected the finest tool of all, 

the mind. I used it as it is, but I had not time to study it, much less modify 
it. Others after me will do it all. But I rather wanted to do it all myself. 
Now it is too late.” 

He went back and worked on his old sparker and its descendents, now 
that he was old. He built toys along the line of it that need not always 
have remained toys. He made a televox, but the only practical application 
was that now Audrey could rail at him over a greater distance. He fired up 
a little steam dynamo in his house, ran wires and made it burn lights in 
his barn. 

And he built a retrogressor. 

“I would do much more along this line had I the time. But I’m pepper- 
bellied pretty near the end of the road. It is like finally coming to a gate 
and seeing a whole greater world beyond it, and being too old and feeble 
to enter.” 

He kicked a chair and broke it. 

“I never even made a better chair. Never got around to it. There are so 
clod-hopping many things I meant to do. I have maybe pushed the 
country ahead a couple of decades faster than it would otherwise have 
gone. But what couldn’t I have done if it weren’t for the blind alleys! Ten 
years lost in one of them, twelve in another. If only there had been a way 
to tell the true from the false, and to leave to others what they could do, 
and to do myself only what nobody else could do. To see a link (however 
unlikely) and to go out and get it and set it in its place. Oh, the waste, the 
wilderness that a talent can wander in! If I had only had a mentor! If I 
had had a map, a clue, a hatful of clues. I was born shrewd, and I 
shrewdly cut a path and went a grand ways. But always there was a 
clearer path and a faster way that I did not see till later. As my name is 
Rainbird, if I had it to do over, I’d do it infinitely better.” 

He began to write a list of the things that he’d have done better. Then 
he stopped and threw away his pen in disgust. 

“Never did even invent a decent ink pen. Never got around to it. Dog¬ 
eared damnation, there’s so much I didn’t do!” 

He poured himself a jolt, but he made a face as he drank it. 

“Never got around to distilling a really better whiskey. Had some good 
ideas along that line, too. So many things I never did do. Well, I can’t 
improve things by talking to myself here about it.” 

Then he sat and thought. 

“But I burr-tailed can improve things by talking to myself there about 

He turned on his retrogressor, and went back sixty-five years and up 
two thousand feet. 

Higgston Rainbird was hawking from the top of Devil’s Head 
Mountain one June afternoon in 1779. He flew his bird down through the 
white fleece clouds, and to him it was sport indeed. Then it came back, 
climbing the shimmering air, and brought a pigeon to him. 

“It’s fun,” said the old man, “but the bird is tough, and you have a lot 
to do. Sit down and listen, Higgston.” 

“How do you know the bird is tough? Who are you, and how did an 
old man like you climb up here without my seeing you? And how in 
hellpepper did you know that my name was Higgston?” 

“I ate the bird and I remember that it was tough. I am just an old man 
who would tell you a few things to avoid in your life, and I came up here 
by means of an invention of my own. And I know your name is Higgston, 
as it is also my name; you being named after me, or I after you, I forget 
which. Which one of us is the older, anyhow?” 

“I had thought that you were, old man. I am a little interested in 
inventions myself. How does the one that carried you up here work?” 

“It begins, well it begins with something like your sparker, Higgston. 
And as the years go by you adapt and add. But it is all tinkering with a 
force field till you are able to warp it a little. Now then, you are an ewer- 
eared galoot and not as handsome as I remembered you; but I happen to 
know that you have the makings of a fine man. Listen now as hard as ever 
you listened in your life. I doubt that I will be able to repeat. I will save 
you years and decades; I will tell you the best road to take over a journey 
which it was once said that a man could travel but once. Man, I’ll pave a 
path for you over the hard places and strew palms before your feet.” 

“Talk, you addlepated old gaff. No man ever listened so hard before.” 

The old man talked to the young one for five hours. Not a word was 
wasted; they were neither of them given to wasting words. He told him 
that steam wasn’t everything, this before he knew that it was anything. It 
was a giant power, but it was limited. Other powers, perhaps, were not. 
He instructed him to explore the possibilities of amplification and 
feedback, and to use always the lightest medium of transmission of 
power: wire rather than mule-drawn coal cart, air rather than wire, ether 

rather than air. He warned against time wasted in shoring up the 
obsolete, and of the bottomless quicksand of cliche, both of word and of 

He admonished him not to waste precious months in trying to devise 
the perfect apple corer; there will never be a perfect apple corer. He 
begged him not to build a battery bobsled. There would be things far 
swifter than a bobsled. 

Let others make the new hide scrapers and tanning salts. Let others 
aid the carter and the candle molder and the cooper in their arts. There 
was need for a better hame, a better horse block, a better stile, a better 
whetstone. Well, let others fill those needs. If our button-hooks, our 
firedogs, our whiffletrees, our bootjacks, our cheese presses are all badly 
designed and a disgrace, then let someone else remove that disgrace. Let 
others aid the cordwainer and the cobbler. Let Higgston do only the high 
work that nobody else would be able to do. 

There would come a time when the Carrier himself would disappear, 
as the fletcher had all but disappeared. But new trades would open for a 
man with an open mind. 

Then the old man got specific. Lie showed young Higgston a design 
for a lathe dog that would save time. He told him how to draw, rather 
than hammer wire; and advised him of the virtues of mica as insulator 
before other material should come to hand. 

“And here there are some things that you will have to take on faith,” 
said the old man, “things of which we learn the ‘what’ before we fathom 
the ‘why’.” 

He explained to him the shuttle armature and the self-exciting field, 
and commutation; and the possibilities that anternation carried to its 
ultimate might open up. He told him a bejammed lot of things about a 
confounded huge variety of subjects. 

“And a little mathematics never hurt a practical man,” said the old 
gaffer. “I was self-taught, and it slowed me down.” 

They hunkered down there, and the old man cyphered it all out in the 
dust on the top of Devil’s Head Mountain. He showed him natural 
logarithms and rotating vectors and the calculi and such; hut he didn’t 
push it too far, as even a smart boy can learn only so much in a few 
minutes. He then gave him a little advice on the treatment of Audrey, 
knowing it would be useless, for the art of living with a shrew is a thing 

that cannot be explained to another. 

“Now hood your hawk and go down the mountain and go to work,” the 
old man said. And that is what young Higgston Rainbird did. 

The career of the Yankee inventor, Higgston Rainbird, was meteoric. 
The wise men of Greece were little boys to him, the Renaissance giants 
had only knocked at the door but had not tried the knob. And it was 
unlocked all the time. 

The milestones that Higgston left are breathtaking. He built a short 
high dam on the flank of Devil’s Head Mountain, and had hydroelectric 
power for his own shop in that same year (1779). He had an arc light 
burning in Horse-Head Lighthouse in 1781. He read by true Incandescent 
light in 1783, and lighted his native village, Knobknocker, three years 
later. He drove a charcoal fueled automobile in 1787, switched to a 
distillate of whale oil in 1789, and used true rock oil in 1790. His gasoline 
powered combination reaper-thresher was in commercial production in 
1793, the same year that he wired Centerville for light and power. His first 
diesel locomotive made its trial run in 1796, in which year he also 
converted one of his earlier coal burning steamships to liquid fuel. 

In 1799 he had wired Philadelphia for light and power, a major 
breakthrough, for the big cities had manfully resisted the innovations. On 
the night of the turn of the century he unhooded a whole clutch of new 
things, wireless telegraphy, the televox, radio transmission and reception, 
motile and audible theatrical reproductions, a machine to transmit the 
human voice into print, and a method of sterilizing and wrapping meat to 
permit its indefinite preservation at any temperature. 

And in the spring of that new year he first flew a heavier-than-air 

“He has made all the basic inventions,” said the many-tongued 
people. “Now there remains only their refinement and proper utilization.” 

“Horse hokey,” said Higgston Rainbird. He made a rocket that could 
carry freight to England in thirteen minutes at seven cents a 
hundredweight. This was in 1805. He had fissionable power in 1813, and 
within four years had the price down where it could be used for desalting 
seawater to the eventual irrigation of five million square miles of 
remarkably dry land. 

He built a Think Machine to work out the problems that he was too 
busy to solve, and a Prediction Machine to pose him with new problems 

and new areas of breakthrough. 

In 1821, on his birthday, he hit the moon with a marker. He bet a 
crony that he would be able to go up personally one year later and 
retrieve it. And he won the bet. 

In 1830 he first put on the market his Red Ball Pipe Tobacco, an 
aromatic and expensive crimp cut made of Martian lichen. 

In 1836 he founded the Institute for the Atmospheric Rehabilitation of 
Venus, for he found that place to be worse than a smokehouse. It was 
there that he developed that hacking cough that stayed with him till the 
end of his days. 

He synthesized a man of his own age and disrepute who would sit 
drinking with him in the after-midnight hours and say, “You’re so right, 
Higgston, so incontestably right.” 

His plan for the Simplification and Eventual Elimination of 
Government was adopted (in modified form) in 1840, a fruit of his 
Political and Economic Balance Institute. 

Yet, for all his seemingly successful penetration of the field, he 
realized that man was the one truly cantankerous animal, and that 
Human Engineering would remain one of the never completely resolved 

He made a partial breakthrough in telepathy, starting with the 
personal knowledge that shrews are always able to read the minds of their 
spouses. He knew that the secret was not in sympathetic reception, but in 
arrogant break-in. With the polite it is forever impossible, but he 
disguised this discovery as politely as he could. 

And he worked toward corporal immortality and the apotheosis of 
mankind, that cantankerous animal. 

He designed a fabric that would embulk itself on a temperature drop, 
and thin to an airy sheen in summery weather. The weather itself he 
disdained to modify, hut he did evolve infallible prediction of exact daily 
rainfall and temperature for decades in advance. 

And he built a retrogressor. 

One day he looked in the mirror and frowned. 

“I never did get around to making a better mirror. This one is hideous. 
However (to consider every possibility) let us weigh the thesis that it is 
the image and not the mirror that is hideous.” 

He called on an acquaintance. 

“Say, Ulois, what year is this anyhow?” 


“Are you sure?” 

“Reasonahly sure.” 

“How old am I?” 

“Eighty-five, I think, Higgston.” 

“How long have I been an old man?” 

“Quite a while, Higgston, quite a while.” 

Higgston Rainbird hung up rudely. 

“I wonder how I ever let a thing like that slip up on me?” he said to 
himself. “1 should have gone to work on corporal immortality a little 
earlier. I’ve bungled the whole business now.” 

He fiddled with his prediction machine and saw that he was to die that 
very year. He did not seek a finer reading. 

“What a saddle-galled splay-footed situation to find myself in! I never 
got around to a tenth of the things I really wanted to do. Oh, I was smart 
enough; I just ran up too many blind alleys. Never found the answers to 
half the old riddles. Should have built the Prediction Machine at the 
beginning instead of the end. But I didn’t know how to build it at the 
beginning. There ought to be a way to get more done. Never got any 
advice in my life worth taking except from that nutty old man on the 
mountain when I was a young man. There’s a lot of things I’ve only 
started on. Well, every man doesn’t hang, but every man does come to the 
end of his rope. 1 never did get around to making that rope extensible. 
And I can’t improve things by talking to myself here about it.” 

He filled his pipe with Red Ball crimp cut and thought a while. 

“But I hill-hopping can improve things by talking to myself there 
about it.” 

Then he turned on his retrogressor and went back and up. 

Young Higgston Rainbird was hawking from the top of Devil’s Head 
Mountain on a June afternoon in 1779. He flew his hawk down through 
the white clouds, and decided that he was the finest fellow in the world 
and master of the finest sport. If there was earth below the clouds it was 
far away and unimportant. 

The hunting bird came back, climbing the tall air, with a pigeon from 
the lower regions. 

“Forget the bird,” said the old man, “and give a listen with those 

outsized ears of yours. I have a lot to tell you in a very little while, and 
then you must devote yourself to a concentrated life of work. Hood the 
bird and clip him to the stake. Is that bridle clip of your own invention? 
Ah yes, I remember now that it is.” 

“I’ll just fly him down once more, old man, and then I’ll have a look at 
what you’re selling.” 

“No. No. Hood him at once. This is your moment of decision. That is a 
boyishness that you must give up. Listen to me, Higgston, and I will 
orient your life for you.” 

“I rather intended to orient it myself. How did you get up here, old 
man, without my seeing you? How, in fact, did you get up here at all? It’s 
a hard climb.” 

“Yes, I remember that it is. I came up here on the wings of an 
invention of my own. Now pay attention for a few hours. It will take all 
your considerable wit.” 

“A few hours and a perfect hawking afternoon will be gone. This may 
be the finest day ever made.” 

“I also once felt that it was, but I man fully gave it up. So must you.” 

“Let me fly the hawk down again and I will listen to you while it is 

“But you will only be listening with half a mind, and the rest will be 
with the hawk.” 

But young Higgston Rainbird flew the bird down through the shining 
white clouds, and the old man began his rigmarole sadly. Yet it was a 
rang-dang-do of a spiel, a mummywhammy of admonition and 
exposition, and young Higgston listened entranced and almost forgot his 
hawk. The old man told him that he must stride half a dozen roads at 
once, and yet never take a wrong one; that he must do some things earlier 
that on the alternative had been done quite late; that he must point his 
technique at the Think Machine and the Prediction Machine, and at the 
unsolved problem of corporal immortality. 

“In no other way can you really acquire elbow room, ample working 
time. Time runs out and life is too short if you let it take its natural 
course. Are you listening to me, Higgston?” 

But the hawk came back, climbing the steep air, and it had a gray 
dove. The old man sighed at the interruption, and he knew that his 
project was in peril. 

“Hood the hawk. It’s a sport for boys. Now listen to me, you 
spraddling jack. I am telling you things that nobody else would ever be 
able to tell you! I will show you how to fly falcons to the stars, not just 
down to the meadows and birch groves at the foot of this mountain.” 

“There is no prey up there,” said young Higgston. 

“There is. Gamier prey than you ever dreamed of. Hood the bird and 
snaffle him.” 

“I’ll just fly him down one more time and listen to you till he comes 
back.” " 

The hawk went down through the clouds like a golden bolt of summer 

Then the old man, taking the cosmos, peeled it open layer by layer like 
an onion, and told young Higgston how it worked. Afterwards he 
returned to the technological beginning and he lined out the workings of 
steam and petro- and electromagnetism, and explained that these simple 
powers must be used for a short interval in the invention of greater 
power. He told him of waves and resonance and airy transmission, and 
fission and flight and over-flight. And that none of the doors required 
keys, only a resolute man to turn the knob and push them open. Young 
Higgston was impressed. 

Then the hawk came back, climbing the towering air, and he had a 

The old man had lively eyes, but now they took on a new light. 

“Nobody ever gives up pleasure willingly,” he said, “and there is 
always the sneaking feeling that the bargain may not have been perfect. 
This is one of the things I have missed. I haven’t hawked for sixty-five 
years. Let me fly him this time, Higgston.” 

“You know how?” 

“I am adept. And I once intended to make a better gauntlet for 
hawkers. This hasn’t been improved since Nimrod’s time.” 

“I have an idea for a better gauntlet myself, old man.” 

“Yes. I know what your idea is. Go ahead with it. It’s practical.” 

“Fly him if you want to, old man.” 

And old Higgston flew the tercel hawk down through the gleaming 
clouds, and he and young Higgston watched from the top of the world. 
And then young Higgston Rainbird was standing alone on the top of 
Devil’s Head Mountain, and the old man was gone. 

“I wonder where he went? And where in apple knocker’s heaven did 
he come from? Or was he ever here at all? That’s a danged funny machine 
he came in, if he did come in it. All the wheels are on the inside. But I can 
use the gears from it, and the clock, and the copper wire. It must have 
taken weeks to hammer that much wire out that fine. I wish I’d paid more 
attention to what he was saying, but he poured it on a little thick. I’d have 
gone along with him on it if only he’d have found a good stopping place a 
little sooner, and hadn’t been so insistent on giving up hawking. Well, I’ll 
just hawk here till dark, and if it dawns clear I’ll be up again in the 
morning. And Sunday, if I have a little time, I may work on my sparker or 
my chestnut roaster.” 

Higgston Rainbird lived a long and successful life. Locally he was 
known best as a hawker and horse racer. But as an inventor he was 
recognized as far as Boston. 

He is still known, in a limited way, to specialists in the field and 
period: known as contributor to the development of the moldboard plow, 
as the designer of the Nonpareil Nutmeg Grater with the safety feature, 
for a bellows, for a sparker for starting fires (little used), and for the 
Devil’s Claw Wedge for splitting logs. He is known for such, and for no 


He was a morning type, so it was unusual that he should feel 
depressed in the morning. He tried to account for it, and could not. 

He was a healthy man, so he ate a healthy breakfast. He was not too 
depressed for that. And he listened unconsciously to the dark girl with the 
musical voice. Often she ate at Cahill’s in the mornings with her girl 

Grape juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, apple juice... why did 
people look at him suspiciously just because he took four or five sorts of 
juice for breakfast? 

“Agnes, it was ghastly. I was built like a sack. A sackful of skunk 
cabbage, I swear. And I was a green-brown color and had hair like a 
latrine mop. Agnes, I was sick with misery. It just isn’t possible for 
anybody to feel so low. I can’t shake it at all. And the whole world was like 
the underside of a log. It wasn’t that, though. It wasn’t just one bunch of 
things. It was everything. It was a world where things just weren’t worth 
living. I can’t come out of it...” 

“Teresa, it was only a dream.” 

Sausage, only four little links for an order. Did people think he was a 
glutton because he had four orders of sausage? It didn’t seem like very 

“My mother was a monster. She was a wart-hoggish animal. And yet 
she was still recognizable. How could my mother look like a wart hog and 
still look like my mother? Mama’s pretty!” 

“Teresa, it was only a dream. Forget it.” 

The stares a man must suffer just to get a dozen pancakes on his plate! 
What was the matter with people who called four pancakes a tall stack? 
And what was odd about ordering a quarter of a pound of butter? It was 
better than having twenty of those little pats each on its coaster. 

“Agnes, we all of us had eyes that bugged out. And we stank! We were 
bloated, and all the time it rained a dirty green rain that smelled like a 
four-letter word. Good grief, girl! We had hair all over us where we 
weren’t warts. And we talked like cracked crows. We had crawlers. I itch 
just from thinking about it. And the dirty parts of the dream I won’t even 
tell you. I’ve never felt so blue in my life. I just don’t know how I’ll make 
the day through.” 

“Teresa, doll, how could a dream upset you so much?” 

There isn’t a thing wrong with ordering three eggs sunny-side up, and 
three over easy, and three poached ever so soft, and six of them 
scrambled. What law says a man should have all of his eggs fixed alike? 
Nor is there anything wrong with ordering five cups of coffee. That way 
the girl doesn’t have to keep running over with refills. 

Bascomb Swicegood liked to have bacon and waffles after the egg 
interlude and the earlier courses. But he was nearly at the end of his 
breakfast when he jumped up. 

“What did she say?” 

He was suprised at the violence of his own voice. 

“What did who say, Mr. Swicegood?” 

“The girl that was just here, that just left with the other girl.” 

“That was Teresa, and the other girl was Agnes. Or else that was Agnes 
and the other girl was Teresa. It depends on which girl you mean. I don’t 
know what either of them said.” 

Bascomb ran out into the street. 

“Girl, the girl who said it rained dirty green all the time, what’s your 

“My name is Teresa. You’ve met me four times. Every morning you 
look like you never saw me before.” 

“I’m Agnes,” said Agnes. 

“What did you mean it rained dirty green all the time? Tell me all 
about it.” 

“I will not, Mr. Swicegood. I was just telling a dream I had to Agnes. It 
isn’t any of your business.” 

“Well, I have to hear all of it. Tell me everything you dreamed.” 

“I will not. It was a dirty dream. It isn’t any of your business. If you 
weren’t a friend of my Uncle Ed Kelly, I’d call a policeman for your 
bothering me.” 

“Did you have things like live rats in your stomach to digest for you? 
Did they — ” 

“Oh! How did you know? Get away from me. I will call a policeman. 
Mr. McCarty, this man is annoying me.” 

“The devil he is, Miss Ananias. Old Bascomb just doesn’t have it in 
him any more. There’s no more harm in him than a lamppost.” 

“Did the lampposts have hair on them, Miss Teresa? Did they pant 

and swell and smell green-” 

“Oh! You couldn’t know! You awful man!” 

“I’m Agnes,” said Agnes; but Teresa dragged Agnes away with her. 

“What is the lamppost jag, Bascomb?” asked Officer Mossback 

“Ah — I know what it is like to be in hell, Mossback. I dreamed of it 
last night.” 

“And well you should, a man who neglects his Easter duty year after 
year. But the lamppost jag? If it concerns anything on my beat, I have to 
know about it.” 

“It seems that I had the same depressing dream as the young lady, 
identical in every detail.” 

Not knowing what dreams are (and we do not know), we should not 
find it strange that two people might have the same dream. There may 
not be enough of them to go around, and most dreams are forgotten in 
the morning. 

Bascomb Swicegood had forgotten his dismal dream. He could not 
account for his state of depression until he heard Teresa Ananias telling 
pieces of her own dream to Agnes Schoenapfel. Even then it came back to 
him slowly at first, but afterwards with a rush. 

The oddity wasn’t that two people should have the same dream, but 
that they should discover the coincidence, what with the thousands of 
people running around and most of the dreams forgotten. 

Yet, if it were a coincidence, it was a multiplex one. On the night when 
it was first made manifest it must have been dreamed by quite a number 
of people in one medium-large city. There was a small piece in an 
afternoon paper. One doctor had five different worried patients who had 
had dreams of rats in their stomachs, and hair growing on the insides of 
their mouths. This was the first publication of the shared-dream 

The squib did not mention the foul-green-rain back-ground, but later 
investigation uncovered that this and other details were common to the 

But it was a reporter named Willy Wagoner who really put the town 
on the map Until he did the job, the incidents and notices had been 
isolated. Doctor Herome Judas had been putting together some notes on 
the Green-rain Syndrome. Doctor Florenz Appian had been working up 

his evidence on the Surex Ventriculus Trauma, and Professor Gideon 
Greathouse had come to some learned conclusions on the inner meaning 
of warts. But it was Willy Wagoner who went to the people for it, and then 
gave his conclusions back to the people. 

Willy said that he had interviewed a thousand people at random. (He 
hadn’t really; he had talked to about twenty. It takes longer than you 
might think to interview a thousand people.) He reported that slightly 
more than sixty-seven percent had had a dream of the same repulsive 
world. He reported that more than forty-four percent had had the dream 
more than once, thirty two percent more than twice, twenty-seven 
percent more than three times. Many had had it every damned night. And 
many refused frostily to answer questions on the subject at all. 

This was ten days after Bascomb Swicegood had heard Teresa Ananias 
tell her dream to Agnes. 

Willy published the opinions of the three learned gentlemen above, 
and the theories and comments of many more. He also appended a hatful 
of answers he had received that were sheer levity. 

But the phenomenon was not local. Wagoner’s article was the first 
comprehensive (or at least wordy) treatment of it, but only by hours. 
Similar things were in other papers that very afternoon, and the next day. 

It was more than a fad. Those who called it a fad fell silent after they 
themselves experienced the dream. The suicide index rose around the 
country and the world. The thing was now international. The 
cacophonous ditty Green Rain was on all the jukes, as was The Wart Hog 
Song. People began to loath themselves and each other. Women feared 
that they would give birth to monsters. There were new perversions 
committed in the name of the thing, and several orgiastic societies were 
formed with the stomach rat as a symbol. All entertainment was 
forgotten, and this was the only topic. 

Nervous disorders took a fearful rise as people tried to stay awake to 
avoid the abomination, and as they slept in spite of themselves and 
suffered the degradation. 

It is no joke to experience the same loathsome dream all night every 
night. It had actually come to that. All the people were dreaming it all 
night every night. It had passed from being a joke to being a universal 
menace. Even the sudden new millionaires who rushed their cures to the 
market were not happy. They also suffered whenever they slept, and they 

knew that their cures were not cures. 

There were large amounts posted for anyone who could cure the 
populace of the wart-hog-people dreams. There was presidential edict 
and dictator decree, and military teams attacked the thing as a military 
problem, but they were not able to subdue it. 

Then one night a nervous lady heard a voice in her noisome dream. It 
was one of the repulsive cracked wart-hog voices. “You are not 
dreaming,” said the voice. “This is the real world. But when you wake you 
will be dreaming. That barefaced world is not a world at all. It is only a 
dream. This is the real world.” The lady awoke howling. And she had not 
howled before, for she was a demure lady. 

Nor was she the only one who awoke howling. There were hundreds, 
then thousands, then millions. The voice spoke to all and engendered a 
doubt. Which was the real world? Almost equal time was now spent in 
each, for the people had come to need more sleep and most of them had 
arrived at spending a full twelve hours or more in the nightmarish world. 

“It Could Be” was the title of a headlined article on the subject by the 
same Professor Greathouse mentioned above. It could be, he said, that 
the world on which the green rain fell incessantly was the real world. It 
could be that the wart-hogs were real and the people a dream. It could be 
that rats in the stomach were normal, and other methods of digestion 
were chimerical. 

And then a very great man went on the air in worldwide broadcast 
with a speech that was a ringing call for collective sanity. It was the hour 
of decision, he said. The decision would be made. Things were at an exact 
balance, and the balance would be tipped. 

“But we can decide. One way or the other, we will decide. I implore 
you all in the name of sanity that you decide right. One world or the other 
will be the world of tomorrow. One of them is real and one of them is a 
dream. Both are with us now, and the favor can go to either. But listen to 
me here: whichever one wins, the other will have always been a dream, a 
momentary madness soon forgotten. I urge you to the sanity which m a 
measure I have lost myself. Yet in our darkened dilemma I feel that we 
yet have a choice. Choose!” 

And perhaps that was the turning point. 

The mad dream disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared. The 
world came back to normal with an embarrassed laugh. It was all over. It 

had lasted from its inception six weeks. 

Bascomb Swicegood, a morning type, felt excellent this morning. He 
breakfasted at Cahill’s, and he ordered heavily as always. And he listened 
with half an ear to the conversation of two girls at the table next to his. 

“But I should know you,” he said. 

“Of course. I’m Teresa.” 

“I’m Agnes,” said Agnes. 

“Mr. Swicegood, how could you forget? It was when the dreams first 
came, and you overheard me telling mine to Agnes. Then you ran after us 
in the street because you had had the same dream, and I wanted to have 
you arrested. Weren’t they horrible dreams? And have they ever found 
out what caused them?” 

“They were horrible, and they have not found out. They ascribe it to 
group mania, which is meaningless. And now there are those who say that 
the dreams never came at all, and soon they will be nearly forgotten. But 
the horror of them! The loneliness!” 

“Yes, we hadn’t even pediculi to curry our body hair. We almost hadn’t 
any body hair.” 

Teresa was an attractive girl. She had a cute trick of popping the 
smallest rat out of her mouth so it could see what was coming into her 
stomach. She was bulbous and beautiful. “Like a sackful of skunk 
cabbage,” Bascomb murmured admiringly in his head, and then flushed 
green at his forwardness of phrase. 

Teresa had protuberances upon protuberances and warts on warts, 
and hair all over her where she wasn’t warts and bumps. “Like a latrine 
mop!” sighed Bascomb with true admiration. The cracked clang of 
Teresa’s voice was music in the early morning. 

All was right with the earth again. Gone the hideous nightmare world 
when people had stood barefaced and lonely, without bodily friends or 
dependents. Gone that ghastly world of the sick blue sky and the near 
absence of entrancing odor. 

Bascomb attacked manfully his plate of prime carrion. And outside 
the pungent green rain fell incessantly. 


Manuel shouldn’t have been employed as a census taker. He wasn’t 
qualified. He couldn’t read a map. He didn’t know what a map was. And 
he only grinned when they told him that North was at the top. He knew 

But he did write a nice round hand — like a boy’s hand. He did know 
Spanish, and enough English. For the sector that was assigned to him, he 
would not need a map. He knew it better than anyone else, certainly 
better than any mapmaker. 

Besides, he was poor and needed the work. 

They instructed him and sent him out. Or they thought that they had 
instructed him. They couldn’t be sure. 

“Count everyone? All right. Fill them all in? I need more papers. 

“We will give you more papers if you need more, Manuel, but there 
aren’t so many in your sector.” 

“Lots of them, lobos, tejones, zorros, even people.” 

“People only, Manuel. Do not take the animals. How would you write 
them up? They have no names.” 

“Oh, yes. All have names. Might as well take them all.” 

“Only people, Manuel.” 




“No, Manuel, no.” 

“No trouble. Might as well take them all.” 

“Only people — God give me strength! — only people, Manuel.” 

“How about little people?” 

“Children, yes, that has been explained to you.” 

“Little people. Not children. Little people.” 

“If they are people, take them.” 

“How big they have to be?” 

“It doesn’t make any difference how big they are. If they are people, 
take them.” 

Manuel took Mula and went. His sector was the Santa Magdalena — a 
scarp of baldheaded and desolate mountains, steep hut not high, and so 
torrid in the afternoons that it was said that the old lava sometimes began 

to writhe arid flow again from the sun’s heat alone. 

In the Center Valley, there were five thousand acres of slag and 
glassified rock from some forgotten old blast that had melted the hills and 
destroyed their mantle, reducing all to a terrible flatness. This was 
Sodom-strewn with low-lying ghosts as of people and objects, formed 
when the granite bubbled like water. 

Away from the dead center, the ravines were body-deep in chapparal, 
and the mountains stood gray-green in old cactus. The stunted trees were 
lower than the giant bushes and yuccas. 

Manuel went with Mula — a round easy man and a spare gaunt mule. 
Mula was a mule, but there were other inhabitants of the Santa 
Magdalena whose genus was less certain. 

Yet even about Mula there was an ancestral oddity, tier paternal 
grandfather had been a goat. Manuel once told Mr. Marshal about this, 
but Marshal had not accepted it. 

“She is a mule,” he said. “Therefore, her father was a jack. Therefore 
his father was also a jack, a donkey. It could not be any other way, 

Manuel often wondered about this, for he had raised the whole strain 
of animals and he remembered who had been with whom. 

“A donkey! A jack! Two feet tall, and with a beard and horns! I always 
thought he was a goat.” 

Manuel and Mula stopped at noon on Lost Soul Creek. There would be 
no travel in the hot afternoon. But Manuel had a job to do and he did it. 
He took the forms from one of the packs that he had unslung from Mula 
and counted out nine of them. He wrote down all the data on nine people. 
He knew all there was to know about them — their nativities and their 
antecedents. He knew that there were only nine regular people in the nine 
hundred square miles of the Santa Magdalena. 

But he was systematic, so he checked the list over again and again. 
There seemed to be somebody missing. Oh yes, himself. He got another 
form and filled out all the data on himself. 

Now — in one way of looking at it — his part in the census was 
finished. If only he had looked at it that way, he would have saved worry 
and trouble for everyone, and also ten thousand lives. But the 
instructions they had given him were ambiguous, for all that they had 
tried to make them clear. 

So very early the next morning, Manuel rose and cooked bean and 
said, “Might as well take them all.” 

He called Mula from the thorn patch where she was grazing and gave 
her salt and loaded her again. Then they went to take the rest of the 
census — but in fear. There was a clear duty to get the job done, but there 
was also a dread of it that the superiors did not understand. There was 
reason also why Mula was loaded with packs of census forms till she 
could hardly walk. 

Manuel prayed out loud as they climbed the purgatorial scarp above 
Lost Soul Creek mega por nosotros pecodores ahora” — the very 
gulches stood angry and stark in the hot early morning — “y en la hora de 
nuestra muerte.” 

Three days later an incredible dwarf staggered into the outskirts of 
High Plains, Texas. He was followed by a dying wolf-sized animal that did 
not look like a wolf. 

A lady called the police to save the pair from rock-throwing kids who 
would have killed them; and the two as yet unclassified things were taken 
to the station house. 

The dwarf was three feet high-a skeleton stretched over with brown- 
burnt leather. The other was an uncanine looking dog-sized beast so full 
of burs and thorns that it might have been a porcupine. But it was more a 
nightmare replica of a shrunken mule. 

The midget was mad. The animal had more presence of mind; she lay 
down quietly and died. That was all she could do considering the state she 
was in. 

“Who is census chief now?” asked the mad midget. “Is Mr. Marshal’s 
little boy the census chief?” 

“Mr. Marshal is, yes. Who are you? How do you know of Marshal? 
And what is that which you are pulling out of your pants — if they are 

“Census list. Names of everyone in town. I had to steal it.” 

“It looks like microfilm-the writing is so small. And the roll goes on 
and on. There must be a million names here.” 

“Little bit more, little bit more. I get two bits a name.” They got 
Marshal there. He was very busy, but he came. He had been given a 
deadline by the mayor and the citizen’s group. He had to produce a 
population of ten thousand persons for High Plains, Texas. This was 

difficult, for there weren’t that many people in the town. He had been 
working hard on it, though. But he came when the police called him. 

“You Marshal’s little boy?” the mad midget asked him. “You look just 
like your father.” 

“That voice — I should know that voice even if it’s cracked to pieces,” 
said Marshall. “That has to be Manuel’s voice.” 

“Sure, I’m Manuel, just like when I left thirty-five years ago.” 

“You can’t be Manuel — shrunk three feet and two hundred pounds 
and aged a million.” 

“You look here at my census slip, Mr. Marshal. It says I’m Manuel. 
And here are nine more of the regular people, and one million of the little 
people. I couldn’t get the little ones on the regular forms. I had to steal 
their list.” 

“You can’t be Manuel,” said Marshal. 

“He can’t be Manuel,” said the big policemen and the little policemen. 

“Maybe not then. I thought I was. Who am I then? Let’s look at the 
other papers to see which one I am.” 

“No, you can’t be any of them either, Manuel. And you surely can’t be 

“Give him a name anyhow and get him counted,” said the head of the 
citizens’ group. “We got to get to that ten thousand mark.” 

“Tell us what happened, Manuel — if you are — which you aren’t — 
but tell us.” 

“After I counted the regular people, I went to count the little people. I 
took a spade and spaded the top off their town to get in. But they put an 
encanto on me and made me and Mula run a treadmill for thirty-five 

“Where was this, Manuel?” 

“At the Little People Town — Nuevo Danae. But after thirty-five years, 
the encanto wore off, and Mula and I stole the list of names and ran 

“But where did you really get this list of so many names written so 
small, Manuel?” 

“Suffering saddle sores, Marshal, don’t ask the little bug so many 
questions! You got a million names in your hand. Certify them! Send 
them in! There’s enough of us right here to pass a resolution. We declare 
that place annexed forthwith. This will make High Plains the biggest town 

in Texas.” 

So Marshal certified the names and sent them in to Washington. This 
gave High Plains the largest percent increase of any city in the nation — 
but it was challenged. There were some soreheads in Houston who said 
that it wasn’t possible — that High Plains had nowhere near that many 
people and that there must have been a miscount. 

In the days that the argument was going on, they cleaned up and fed 
Manuel — if it were he — and tried to get from him a cogent story. 

“How do you know it was thirty-five years, Manuel?” 

“On the treadmill, it seemed like thirty-five years.” 

“It could have been only about three days.” 

“How come I’m so old then?” 

“We don’t know that Manuel. We sure don’t know that. How big were 
these people?” 

“Who knows. A finger long, maybe two.” 

“And what is their town?” 

“It’s an old prairie dog town that they fixed up. You have to dig down 
with a spade to get to the streets.” 

“Maybe they really were prairie dogs, Manuel. Maybe the heat got you 
and you only dreamed that they were little people.” 

“Prairie dogs can’t write as good as on that list,” said Manuel. “Prairie 
dogs can’t write hardly at all.” 

“That’s true. The list is hard to explain. And such odd names on it, 

“Where is Mula? I don’t see Mula since I came back.” 

“Mula just lay down and died, Manuel.” 

“Gave me the slip. Why didn’t I think of that? I’ll do it too. I’m too 
worn out for anything else.” 

“Before you do, Manuel, just a couple of last questions.” 

“Make them real fast then. I’m on my way.” 

“Did you know there little people were there before?” 

“Oh sure. Everybody in the Santa Magdalena see them. Eight, nine 
people know they are there. ‘Who wants to be laughed at?’ they say. They 
never talked about it.” 

“And, Manuel, how do we get to the place? Can you show us on a 

Manuel made a grimace and died quietly. He didn’t understand those 

maps, and he took the easy way out. They buried him — not knowing for 
sure whether be was Manuel or not. There wasn’t much of him to bury. 

It was the same night — very late, and after he had been asleep — that 
Marshal was awakened by the ring of an authoritative voice. He was being 
harangued by a four-inch-tall man on his bedside table — a man of 
dominating presence and acid voice. 

“Come out of that cot, you clown! Give me your name and station!” 

“I’m marshal, and I suspect that you’re a late pig sandwich. I shouldn’t 
eat so late.” 

“Say ‘Sir’ when you reply to me! I am no pig sandwich and I do not 
commonly call on fools. Get on your feet, you clod!” Wondering, Marshal 

“I want the list that was stolen. Don’t gape. Get it! Don’t stall, don’t 
stutter. Get me that tax list! It isn’t words I want from you. 

“Listen, you cicada,” said Marshal with his last bravery, “I’ll take you 
and — ” 

“You will not! You will notice that you are now paralyzed from the 
neck down. I suspect that you were always so from there up. Where is it?” 

“S — sent it to Washington.” 

“You bug-eyed behemoth! Do you realize what a trip that will be? You 
grandfather of inanities, it will be a pleasure to destroy you. 

“I don’t know what you are,” said Marshal. “I don’t believe you even 
belong on the world.” 

“Not belong on the world? We own the world. We can show written 
title to the world. Can you?” 

“I doubt it. Where did you get the title?” 

“We got it from a promoter of sorts, a con man really. I have to admit 
that we were taken, but we were in a spot and needed a world. He said 
that the larger bifurcates were too stupid to be a nuisance. We should 
have known that the stupider the creature the more of a nuisance it is.” 

“I have decided the same thing about the smaller the creature. We 
may have to fumigate that old mountain mess.” 

“Oh, you can’t harm us. We’re too powerful. But we can obliterate you 
in an instant. 

“Hah!” exploded Marshal. 

“Say ‘hah, sir’ when you address me. Do you know the place in the 
mountain that is called Sodom?” 

“I know the place. It was caused by a large meteor.” 

“It was caused by one of these,” said the small creature, and what he 
held up was the size of a grain of sand. “There was another city of you 
bug-eyed beasts there,” continued the small martinet. “You wouldn’t 
know about it. It’s been a few hundred years. We decided it was too close. 
Now I have decided that you are too close.” 

“A thing that size couldn’t crack a walnut,” said Marshal. 

“You floundering fop, it will blast this town flat.” 

“And if it does, what will happen to you?” 

“Nothing. I don’t even blink for things like that. I haven’t time to 
explain it to you, you gaping goof. I have to get to Washington.” 

It may be that Marshal did not believe himself quite awake. He 
certainly didn’t take the threat seriously enough. For, in a manner still 
not understood, the little man did trigger it off. 

When the final count was in, High Plains did not have the highest 
percentage gain in the Nation. Actually it showed the sharpest decline of 
any town — from 7313 to nothing. It is believed that High Plains was 
destroyed by a giant meteor. But there are eight, nine people in the Santa 
Magdalena who know what really happened, and they won’t tell. 

They were going to make a forest preserve out of the place, except that 
it has no trees worthy of the name Now it is proposed to make it the 
Sodom and Gomorrah State Park from the two mysterious scenes of 
desolation there just seven miles apart. 

It is an interesting place, as wild a region as you will ever find, and is 
recommended for the man who has seen everything. 


This was the birthday of Carnadine Thompson. She was seven years 
old. Thereby she left her childhood behind her, and came into the fullness 
of her powers. This was her own phrase, and her own idea of the 
importance of the milestone. 

There were others, mostly adult, who thought that she was a 
peculiarly backward little girl in some ways, though precocious in others. 

She received for her birthday four presents: a hollow, white rubber 
ball, a green plastic frog, a red cap and a little wire puzzle. 

She immediately tore the plastic frog apart, considering it a child’s 
toy. So much for that. 

She put on the cap, saying that it had been sent by her Genie as a 
symbol of her authority. In fact none of them knew who had sent her the 
red cap. The cap is important. If it weren’t important, it wouldn’t he 

Carnadine quickly worked the wire puzzle, and then unworked it 
again. Then she did something with the hollow, white rubber ball that 
made her mother’s eyes pop out. Nor did they pop all the way in again 
when Carnadine undid it and made it as it was before. 

Geraldine Thompson had been looking pop-eyed for a long time. Her 
husband had commented on it, and she had been to the doctor for it. No 
medical reason was found, but the actual reason was some of the antics of 
her daughter Carnadine. 

“I wonder if you noticed the small wire puzzle that I gave to my 
daughter,” said Tyburn Thompson to his neighbor, H. Horn. 

“Only to note that it probably cost less than a quarter,” said Horn, 
“and to marvel again at the canny way you have with coin. I wouldn’t call 
you stingy, Tyburn. I’ve never believed in the virtues of understatement. 
You have a talent for making stingy people seem benevolent.” 

“I know. Many people misunderstand me. But consider that wire 
puzzle. It’s a very simple-appearing puzzle, but it’s twenty-four centuries 
old. It is unworkable, of course, so it should keep Carnadine occupied for 
some time. She has an excess of energy. This is one of the oldest of the 
unworkable puzzles.” 

“But, Tyburn, she just worked it,” said his wife Geraldine. 

“It is one of the nine impossible apparatus puzzles listed by 

Anaximandros in the fifth century before the common era,” continued 
Tyburn. “And do you know, in all the centuries since then, there have 
been only two added to the list.” 

“Carnadine,” said her mother, “let me see you work that again.” 

Carnadine worked it again. 

“The reason it is unworkable,” said Tyburn, “though apparent to me as 
a design engineer, may not be so readily apparent to you. It has to do with 
odds and evens of lays. Many of the unworkable classic puzzles are 
cordage puzzles, as is this actually. It is a wire miniature of a cordage 
puzzle. It is said that this is the construction of the Gordian knot. The 
same, however, is said of two other early cordage puzzles.” 

“But she just worked it, Tyburn, twice,” said the wife. 

“Stop chattering, Geraldine. I am explaining something to Horn. Men 
have spent years on the puzzle, the Engineering Mind and the recognition 
of patent impossibility being less prevalent in past centuries. And this, I 
believe, is the best of all the impossible ones. It is misleading. It looks as 
though there would surely be a way to do it.” 

“I just believe that I could do it, Tyburn,” said Horn. 

“No, you could not. You’re a stubborn man, and it’d drive you crazy. 
It’s quite impossible. You would have to take it into another dimension to 
work it, and then bring it back.” 

Carnadine once more did something with the hollow rubber ball. 

“How did you make the rubber ball turn red and then white again, 
Carnadine?” her mother asked her. 

“Turned it inside out. It’s red on the inside.” 

“But how did you turn it inside out without tearing it?” 

“It’d spoil it to tear it, mama.” 

“But it’s impossible to turn it inside out without tearing it.” 

“Not if you have a red cap it isn’t.” 

“Dear, how do you work the puzzle that your father says can’t be 

“Like this.” 

“Oh, yes. I mean, how does it happen that you can work it when 
nobody else could ever work it before?” 

“There has to be a first time for everything, mama.” 

“Maybe, but there has to be a first-class explanation to go with that 
first time.” 

“It’s on account of the red cap. With this cap I can do anything.” 

So Carnadine Thompson in the fullness of her powers, and in her red 
cap, went out to find the rest of the Bengal Tigers. This was the most 
exclusive society in the world. It had only one full member, herself, and 
three contingent or defective members, her little brother Eustace, Fatty 
Frost, and Peewee Horn. Children all three of them, the oldest not within 
three months of her age. 

The Bengal Tigers was not well known to the world at large, having 
been founded only the day before. Carnadine Thompson was made First 
Stripe for life. There were no other offices. 

Yet, for a combination of reasons, the Bengal Tigers now became the 
most important society in the world. The new power was already in being. 
It was only a question of what form it would take, but it seemed to show a 
peculiar affiliation for this esoteric society. 

Clement Chardin, writing in Bulletin de la Societe’ Parahistorique 
Francaise, expressed a novel idea: 

It is no longer a question whether there be transcendent powers. 
These have now come so near to us that the aura of them ruffles our very 
hair. We are the objects of a visitation. The Power to Move Mountains 
and Worlds is at hand. The Actuality of the Visitation is proved, though 
the methods of the detection cannot now be revealed. 

The question is only whether there is any individual or group with the 
assurance to grasp that Power. It will not be given lightly. It will not come 
to the craven on contabescent. There is the sad possibility that there may 
be none ready in the World to receive the Power. This may not be the first 
Visitaion, but it may well be the last. But the Power, whatever its form 
and essence (it is real, its presence had been detected by fine 
instrumentation), the Power, the Visitation may pass us by as unworthy. 

This parenthetical for those who might not have read it in the journal. 

That which struck just West of Kearney, Nebraska, was an elemental 
force. The shock of it was heard around the world, and its suction 
flattened farmhouses and barns for miles. 

The area of the destruction was an almost perfect circle about two 
miles in diameter, so just over two thousand acres were destroyed. The 
first reports said that it was like no disaster ever known. Later reports 
said that it was like every disaster ever known; and it did have points of 
resemblance to all. 

There was the great crater as though a meteorite had struck; there was 
the intense heat and the contamination as though it had been of 
fissionable origin; there was an afterflow of lava and the great ash clouds 
as though it were the super volcanic explosion of another Krakatoa. There 
was the sudden silence of perhaps two seconds actually, and perhaps two 
hours as to human response. And then the noise of all sorts. 

The early reports said that the hole was three miles deep. That was 
said simply to have a figure and to avoid panic. It was not known how 
deep the hole was. 

But it was very much more than three miles — before the earthquake 
had begun to fill and mask it — before the hot magma had oozed up from 
its bottom to fill those first miles. It was still very much more than three 
miles deep after the rapid gushing had declined to a slow waxlike flowing. 

Had anyone heard the preceding rush, or seen a meteor or any other 
flying object? No. There hadn’t been a sound, but there had been 
something pitched a little higher than sound. 

There hadn’t been a meteor or a flying ball. But there had been what 
some called a giant shaft of light, and others a sheen of metal: a thing too 
big to be believed, and gone too soon to be remembered. 

One farmer said that it was like the point of a giant needle quickly 
becoming more than a mile thick, and a hundred thousand miles long. 

Did he know how to judge distances? Certainly, he said, I know how to 
judge distances. It is ninety yards to that tree; it is seven hundred yards to 
that windmill. That crow is flying at right onto eighty yards above the 
earth, though most would guess him higher. And that train whistle is 
coming from a distance of five and one-quarter miles. 

But did he know how to judge great distances? Did he know how far 
was a hundred thousand miles? Certainly, he said, a great distance is 
easier to judge than a small one. And that sudden bright shaft was one 
hundred thousand miles long. 

The farmer was the only one who offered any figures. Few had seen 
the thing at all. And all who had seen it maintained that it had lasted only 
a fraction of a second. 

“There should be something to take the minds of the people from the 
unexplained happening near Kearney, Nebraska,” said a group of 
advisors who had national status. “It will not be good for too much notice 
to be taken of this event until we have an explanation of it.” 

Fortunately something did take the minds of the people off the 
unexplained happenings near Kearney. What took their minds from the 
unusual happenings in Nebraska were the happenings at or near 
Hanksville, Utah, Crumpton, Maryland, Locust Bayou, Arkansas, and 
Pope City, Georgia. All of these sudden destructions were absolutely 
similar in type and vague in origin. National panic now went into the 
second stage, and it was nearly as important to halt it as to solve the 
disasters them selves. 

And what in turn took the minds of the people off these disasters were 
the further disasters at Highmore, South Dakota, Lower Gilmore, New 
Hampshire, Cherryfork, Ohio, and Rowesville, South Carolina. 

And what took the minds of the people off these later disasters were 
still further disasters at — but this could go on and on. 

And it did. 

So with the cataclysmic disasters erupting over the country like a rash, 
there wasn’t a large audience for the academic discussions about the New 
Potential of Mankind. There were those, concerned about the current 
catastrophes, who said that Mankind might not last long enough to 
receive the New Potential — or anything else. 

But Winkers observed from the Long Viewpoint — paying no more 
attention to the destructions than if they had been a string of firecrackers, 
such not being his field: 

It is paradoxical that we know so much and yet so little about the 
Power Immanent in the World: the Visitation, the Poyavlenie, as it is now 
called internationally. 

It has been detected, but in ways twice removed. An earlier statement 
that it had been detected by instrumentation is inaccurate. It has not 
been detected by instrumentation, but by para-instrumentation. This is 
the infant science of gathering data from patterns of failure of 
instruments, and of making deductions from those failure patterns. What 
our finest instruments fail to detect is at least as important as what they 
do detect. In some cases it is more so. The patterns of failure when 
confronted with the thesis of the Visitation have been varied, but they 
have not been random. There appears to be a validity to the deductions 
from the patterns. 

The characteristics of the Power, the Visitation, as projected by these 
methods (and always considered in the Oeg-Hornbostel framework) is 

that it is Aculciform, Hoinodynamous, Homochiral, and (here the 
intelligence reels with disbelief, yet I assure the Jector that I am deadly 
serious) Homoeoteleutic. 

For there is a Verbal Element to it, incredible as it seems. This raises 
old ghosts. It is almost as if we hear the returning whisper of primitive 
magic or fetish. It is as if we were dealing with the Logos — the word that 
was before the world. But where are we to find the logic of the Logos? 

Truly the most puzzling aspect of all is this Verbal Element detected in 
it, even if thus remotely. Should we believe that the Power operates 
homeopathically through some sort of witches’ rhyming chant? That 
might be an extreme conclusion, since we know it only by an implication. 
But when w~ consider all the foregoing in the light of Laudermilk’s 
Hypothesis, we are tempted to a bit of unscientific apprehension. 

How powerful is the Power? We do not know. We cannot equate it in 
dynes. We can only compare effect with effect, and here the difference Is 
so great that comparison fails. We can consider the effect of the Titter- 
Stumpf Theory, or of the Krogman-Keil Projection on Instrumentation 
and Para-instrumentation. And we humbly murmur “very powerful 

Carnadine Thompson had begun to read the newspapers avidly. This 
was unexpected, since reading was her weak point. She had had so much 
trouble with the story of the Kitten and the Bell in the First Reader that 
her mother had come to believe that she had no verbal facility at all. This 
had been belied a moment later when Carnadine had torn the offending 
pages out of the Reader and told her mother and the world just what they 
could do with that kitten, and told it with great verbal facility. But it 
seemed that for reading Carnadine had no talent. 

But now she read everything she could find about the new disasters 
that had struck the country — read it out loud in a ringing voice in which 
the names of the destroyed places were like clanging bells. 

“How come you can read the paper so well, Carnadine?” her mother 
asked her. “How do you know how to say the names?” 

“Oh, it’s no great trick, mama. You just tie into the stuff and let go. 
Crumpton! Locust Bayou! Pope City! Cherryfork! Rowesville!” 

“But how can you read all those hard names in the paper when you 
couldn’t even read the story about the little kitten?” 

“Mama, with things going the way they are, I think there’s a pretty 

good chance that that damned kitten will get what’s coming to her.” 

Far out, very far out, there was a conversation. 

This was on a giant world of extreme sophistication nondependence 
on matter. It was such a world as which Laudermilk’s Hypothesis was 
built. That such a world existed, even in a contingent sense, was a 
triumph for Laudermilk. 

“Then you have invested one?” asked Sphaeros, an ancient rotundity 
of that advanced world. 

“I have invested one,” said Acu, the eager young sharpie, and bowed 
his forehead to the floor. The expression was figurative, since there was 
neither forehead nor floor on that world. 

“And you are certain that you have invested the correct one?” 

“You toy with me. Naturally I am not certain. Every investiture may 
not be successful, and every seed may not grow. One learns by 
experience, and this is my first experience on such a mission. 

“I examined much of that world before I found this person. I thought 
first that it would be among the masters of the contrapuntal worlds — for 
even there they have such and masters of such. But none of these persons 

— called by themselves actors and impresarios and promotors and hacks 

— none of these qualified. None had the calm assurance that is the first 
requisite. What assurance they had was of another sort, and not valid. 
Also, their contrapuntal worlds were not true creations in our sense — not 
really worlds at all.” 

“Then where did you look?” asked Sphaeros. 

“I looked to the heads of the apparatus. On retarded worlds there is 
often an apparatus or ‘government.’ On that world there were many. But 
the leaders of these-though most showed an avidity for power-did not 
show the calm assurance that should go with it. Their assurance, if it 
could be called such, was of an hysterical sort. Also, most of them were 
venal persons, so I rejected them.” 

“And then?” 

“Then I explored remote possibilities. Those who employ in their work 
a certain power over another species — jockeys, swineherds, beekeepers, 
snake-charmers. But with them I didn’t find what I looked for — the 
perfect assurance of the truly superior being.” 

“And then, Acu?” 

“Then I went into instruments, not trusting my own judgment. I set 

the Calm Assurance Indicator on automatic and cruised about that world. 
And on that whole world I found only one person with perfect assurance 
— one impervious to doubt of any kind and totally impervious to self¬ 
doubt. On this one I made the investiture and conferred the concept of 
great Power and Sharpness. 

“You have made a mistake. Fortunately it is not a great mistake as it is 
not a great world. You were too anxious to make a good showing on your 
first attempt. When nothing can be found, you should leave that world 
alone. On very many of them nothing can be found. Assurance is not the 
only quality that makes up this competence; it is simply the quality for 
which we look first on alien spheres. 

“The one on whom you made the Investiture, though full of assurance, 
was not full of other qualities equally important. It was in fact a pupa 
form, a child of the species, known locally as a kid. Well, it’s done and 
cannot be undone. Fortunately such power conferred carries its own 
safety factor. The worst it can do is destroy its own world and seal it off 
safely from others. You made the Investiture correctly?” 

“Yes. I left the Red Cap, the symbol of authority and power. There was 
instant acceptance and comprehension.” 

“Now we’ll do the big towns,” screamed Carnadine Thompson in the 
clubhouse of the Bengal Tigers. 

“Peas and Beans — New Orleans!” 

She jabbed the needle into New Orleans on the map, and the great 
shaft a hundred thousand miles long came down into the middle of the 
Crescent City. 

A needle? Not a pin? No. No. Pins won’t work. They’re of base metal. 
Needles! Needles! 

“Candy store — Baltimore,” howled Carnadine and jabbed in another 
needle, and the old city was destroyed. But there was never a place that 
screamed so loudly over its own destruction or hated so much to go. 

“Fatty’s full of bolonio — 

San Antonio.” 

And Carnadine stuck it in with full assurance of her powers, red cap 
atilt, eyes full of green fire. There were some of us who liked that place 
and wished that it could have been spared. 

“Eustace is a sisty — Corpus Christi.” 

“I know one,” said Eustace, and he clapped the red cap on his own 


“Eggs and Batter — Cincinnater.” 

He rhymed and jabbed, manfully but badly. 

“That didn’t rhyme very good,” said Carnadine. “I bet you botched it.” 

He did. It wasn’t a clean-cut holocaust at all. It was a clumsy, bloody, 
grinding job — not what you’d like. 

“Eustace, go in the house and get the big world map,” ordered 
Carnadine, “and some more needles. We don’t want to run out of things.” 

“Pee wee is a sapolis — Minneapolis.” 

“Let me do one,” pleaded Peewee, and he snatched the red cap: 

“Hopping Froggo — Chicago.” 

“I do wish that you people would let me handle this,” said Carnadine. 
“That was awful.” 

It was. It was horrible. That giant needle didn’t go in clean at all. It 
buckled great chunks of land and tore a ragged gap. Nothing pretty, 
nothing round about it. It was plain brutal destruction. 

If you don’t personally go for this stuff, then pick a high place near a 
town that nobody can find a rhyme for, and go there fast. But if you can’t 
get out of town in the next two minutes, then forget it. It will be too late. 

Carnadine plunged ahead: 

“What the hecktady — Schenectady.” 

That was one of the roundest and cleanest holes of all. 

“Flour and Crisco — San Francisco.” 

That was a good one. It got all the people at once, and then set up tidal 
waves and earthquakes all over everywhere. 

“Knife and Fork — 


The too-happy puppy came bounding up to him — a bundle of 
hysterical yipes and a waggling tail that would bring joy to the soul of 
anyone. The pathetic expectation and sheer love in the shining eyes and 
woolly rump was something to see. The whole world loves a puppy like 

And George Gnevni kicked the thing end over end and high into the 
air with a remarkably powerful boot. The sound that came from the 
broken creature as it crash-landed against a wall was a heart-rending wail 
that would have melted the heart of a stone toad. 

Gnevni was disgusted with himself. 

“Less than ten meters. Should have hooted him twelve. I’ll kill the 
blood-sucking cod-headed little cur the next time. Nothing goes right 

It was not a real puppy; it was better than a real one. There is 
something artificial in the joy and carrying on of a real puppy as well as in 
its hurt screaming. But the antics of this one rang true. The thing was 
made by a competent artist, and it was well made. 

It could be set to go through the same routine again at a moment’s 

A Crippled Old Lady came up shaking with palsy. There was real 
beauty in her face yet, and a serenity that pain could never take away 
from her. 

“A glorious morning to you, my good man,” she said to Gnevni. 

And he kicked her crutches out from under her. 

“I am sure that was an accident, sir,” she gasped as she teetered and 
nearly fell. “Would you be so kind as to hand them to me again? I’m quite 
unable to stand without them.” 

Gnevni knocked her down with a smacking blow. He then stomped up 
and down on her body from stem to stern. And with a heavy two-footed 
jump on her stomach he left her writhing on the pavement. 

Gnevni was again disgusted with himself. 

“It doesn’t seem to do a thing for me today,” he said, “not a thing. I 
don’t know what’s the matter with me this morning.” 

It was a real lady. We are afraid of dog-lovers, but we are not afraid of 

people-lovers. There are so few of them. So the lady was not an artificial 
one. She was real flesh and blood, and the least of both. However, she was 
neither crippled nor old. She was a remarkably athletic woman and had 
been a stunt girl before she found her true vocation. She was also a fine 
young actress and played the Crippled Old Lady role well. 

Gnevni went to his job in the Cortin Institute Building that was 
popularly known as the Milk Shed. 

“Bring my things, crow-bait,” he grumbled at a nice young lady 
assistant. “I see the rats have been in your hair again. Are you naturally 
deformed or do you stand that way on purpose? There’s a point, you 
know, beyond which ugliness is no longer a virtue.” 

The nice young lady began to cry, but not very convincingly. She went 
off to get Gnevni’s things. But she would bring only a part of them, and, 
not all of them the right ones. 

Old George isn’t himself this morning,” said the underdoctor Cotrel. 

I know,” said under-doctor Devon. “We’ll have to devise something to 
get him mad today. We can’t have him getting pleasant on us. 

The required paranexus could not be synthesized. Many substances 
had been tried and all of them had been found insufficient. But the thing 
was needed for the finest operation of the Programmeds. It had to be the 
real thing, and there was only one way to get a steady supply of it. 

At one time they had simplified it by emphasizing the cortin and 
adrenalin components of it. Later they had emphasized a dozen other 
components, and then a hundred. And finally they accepted it for what it 
was too complex for duplication, too necessary an accessory for the 
programmeds to be neglected, too valuable at its most effective to be 
taken from random specimens. It could be had only from Humans, and it 
could be had in fine quality only from a special sort of Humans. The thing 
was very complex, but at the Institute they called it Oil of Dog. 

Peredacha was a pleasant little contrivance — a “Shadier Movement” 
or “female” of the species that had once been called homo canventus or 
robot and was now referred to as “Programmed Person.” 

She had a sound consciousness, hint of developing originality, a 
capacity for growth and a neatness of mechanism and person. She might 
be capable of fine work of the speculative sort. She was one of those on 
whom the added spark might not be wasted. 

Always they had worked to combine the best elements of both sorts. 

The Programmed Persons were in many respects superior to the Old 
Becension Persons or Humans. They were of better emotional balance, of 
greater diligence, of wider adaptability, of much vaster memory or 
accumulation and of readier judgment based on that memory. But there 
was one thing lacking in the most adept of the Programmed that was 
often to be found in the meanest of the humans. This was a thing very 
hard to name. 

It was the little bit extra; but the Programmed already had the very 
much extra. It had something of the creative in it, though the 
Programmed were surely more creative than the Humans. It was the 
rising to the occasion; the Programmed could do this more gracefully, but 
sometimes less effectively, than could the Humans. It was the breaking 
out of a framework, the utter lack of complacency, the sudden surge of 
power or intellect, the bewildering mastery of the moment, the thing that 
made the difference. 

It was the Programmed themselves who sought out the thing, for they 
were the more conscious of the difference. It was the Programmed 
technicians who set up the system. It cost the Humans nothing, and it 
profited the Programmed very much in their persons and personalities. 

On many of them, of course, it had little effect; but on a select few it 
had the effect of raising them to a genius grade. And many of them who 
could never become geniuses did become specialists to a degree unheard 
of before — and all because of the peculiar human additive. 

It was something like the crossing of the two races, though there could 
never be a true cross of species so different-one of them not being of the 
reproductive sort. The adrenal complex sometimes worked great changes 
on a Programmed. 

There were but a few consistent prime sources of it — and each of 
them somehow had his distinguishing mark. Often a Programmed felt an 
immediate kinship, seldom reciprocated, with the Human donor. And 
Peredacha, a very responsive Programmed, felt the kinship keenly when 
the additive was given to her. 

“I claim for paternity,” she cried. It was a standard joke of the 
Programmed. ~’I claim as daughter to my donor! I never believed it 
before. I thought it only one of those things that everybody says. The 
donors are such a surly bunch that it drives them really violent til one of 
us seeks their acquaintance on this pretext. But I’m curious. Which one 

was it?” 

She was told. 

“Oh no! Not him of the whole clutch! How droll can you get? He is my 
new kindred? But never before did I feel so glorious. Never have I been 
able to work so well.” 

The assigned job of George Gnevni was a mechanical one. In the 
ordinary course of things this would be all wrong, for George had less 
mechanical aptitude than any man ever born. George had very little 
aptitude for anything at all in the world — until his one peculiar talent 
was discovered. 

He was an unhandsome and graceless man, and he lived in poverty. 
Much has been said about the compensations of physical ugliness — 
mostly the same things that have been said about poverty. It is often 
maintained that they may be melded behind the dross front, that the 
sterling character may develop and shine through the adversity. 

It is lies, it is lies! It happens only rarely that these things are 
ennobling. With persons of the commoner sort it happens not at all. To 
be ugly and clumsy and poor at the same time will finally drive a man to 
raving anger against the whole world. 

And that was the idea. 

Gnevni was assigned a mean lodging, and his meal tickets were 
peculiar ones. He could not obtain what he wanted to eat. He could have 
only what was on the list for him to eat, and this was evilly contrived to 
cover everything that disagreed with him. As a result he was usually in 
gastric pain and in seething anger at his own entrails. He had an ugly 
nature to begin with, but the form of life forced upon him deepened and 
nurtured it. 

Gnevni’s voice was harsh and jangling, though there was real mastery 
of resonance in his powerful howling when his anger reached high form. 
He was denied wifing privileges, and no woman would have had him in 
any case. He was allowed just enough of bad whoa-johnny whisky to keep 
him edgy and mean, but not enough to bring him solace. 

He was an oaf — an obscene distasteful clod of humanity. He knew it 
and he boiled and seethed with the shoddy knowledge. He was no better 
than a badger in a cage, but those things are terrific snappers. 

For his poor livelihood he was given a quota of mechanical tasks to 
complete every day, and he had no meehanical aptitude at all. They were 

simple assembly jobs. A competent Programmed Person could do in 
minutes what it took Gnevni all day to do. 

Most children of the human species could do the same things easily 
and quickly — though some might not be able to do them at all, for the 
Humans are less uniform in their abilities than the Programmed. The 
things that Gnevni was to assemble were never all there, some of them 
were the wrong things, and some of them were defective. A Programmed 
would have spotted the off stuff at once and sent it back, but ugly George 
had no way of telling whether things were right or not. He sweated and 
swore his days away at the grotesque labor and became the angriest man 

Joker tools were sometimes substituted on him for the true with 
shafts as flexible as spaghetti, key-drifts with noses as soft as wax, box- 
end wrench sets that were sized to fit nothing, soldering guns that froze 
ice on their tips, mismarked calipers with automatic slippage, false 
templates, unworkable crimpers, continuity testers that shocked a man to 
near madness. 

It is a legend that humans have an affinity for mechanical things. But 
normal humans have an innate hatred for machinery, and the 
accommodation that has grown up between them is a nervous one. The 
damned stuff just doesn’t work right. You hate it, and it hates you. That’s 
the old basic of it. 

Swift, a wise old mad man, once wrote a piece on the “Perversity of 
Inanimate Objects.” And they are perverse, particularly to a sick, ugly, 
ignorant, incompetent, poor man who fights them in a frenzy — and they 
fight back. 

All day long George Gnevni and a few of his unfortunate fellows 
attacked their tasks explosively — the air blue with multi-syllabled 
profanity, and anger dancing about like summer lightning. Now and then, 
people came and inserted tubes into these unfortunates, and performed 
some other indignities upon them. 

The paranexus, the complex substance, the “Oil of Dog” that was 
needed for stimulation of the Programmed, while it could be taken from 
any Humans, could only be had in its prime form from a depraved, insane 
sort of Very Angry Men. 

But today George Gnevni was not himself. There was only a sullenness 
in him, not the required flaming purple anger. 

“We have to prod him,” said under-doctor Cotrel. “We can’t waste a 
whole day on him. He’s sick enough. He tests at a high enough pitch of 
excitement. Why won’t he put out? Why won’t he get mad?” 

“I have an idea,” said under-doctor Devon. “We have an inner-office 
memo that one of the Programmed has recognized kinship with him. You 
remember when Wut was in a slump? We got a Programmed up here who 
threw an arm around him and called him Uncle Wilbur. The way Wut 
exploded, seismographs must have recorded the shock at a considerable 
distance. We had to move fast to prevent him from damaging the 
Programmed. And then Wut was so mad that we were able to use him 
around the clock for seventy-two hours. How our Very Angry Men do 
hate the Programmed! They call them the things.” 

“Good. Anything that worked on Wet ought to work double on 
Gnevni. Get the Programmed Person up here. We’ll have him at ugly 

“Her. She’s a Shadier Movement Programmed and so technically a 

“Better yet. I can hardly wait, Gnevni is the most spectacular of them 
all when he really goes wild. We should get a good production from him.” 

Peredacha, the talented little Shadier Movement Programmed, came 
to the Cortin Institute Building — the Milk Shed. She understood the 
situation and enjoyed it. The Programmed have their humor — more 
urbane than that of Humans, and yet as genuine — and they appreciate 
the hilarity of an incongnious confrontation. 

Peredacha was something of an actress, for all the Programmed have a 
talent for mimicry. She considered the role for a moment, and she put all 
her talent into it. 

And she did it! She made herself into the most pathetic urchin since 
the Little Match Girl. Yet she was a Programmed and not a Human; it was 
as though a gear box should put on a waif s shawl and turn tear-jerker. 

They brought her in. 

“Papa!” Peredacha cried and rushed toward Gnevni. 

The attendants had closed between them to prevent damage when the 
anger of the low man should rise like a jagged wave. 

The show should have been greater than the one that Wut had once 
put on for less reason. Gnevni was a bigger man with more power of 
anger, and the situation was even more ridiculous. It should have set 

records on the decibel-recorder, filled the room with brimstone, and 
enriched the vocabulary of scatology. 

But it didn’t. 

The face of George Gnevni was slack, and he shook his heavy head 

“Take the child away,” he said dully. “I will not be responsible for my 
feelings today.” 

It was a new morning and George Gnevni must return to his brutal 

A too-happy puppy came bounding up to him — a bundle of 
hysterically gay yipes with a waggling rump and tail hitclied on to them. 

“Hello, little fellow,” Gnevni said and bent down to pet it. But the 
puppy was not programmed for such treatment. It was made to be kicked 
by angry men. It threw itself into a series of reverse somersaults and 
heart-rending wails as though it had been kicked indeed. 

“Oh, the poor little toy!” said Gnevni. “It has never known kindness.” 

“Look, Gnevni,” said an inferior sort of man who came up, “the dog 
was made for one thing only — so that twelve or thirteen of you hotfires 
could kick it every morning and get into your mood. Now kick too.” 

“I won’t do it.” 

“I’ll report you.” 

“I don’t care. How could anyone harm that poor little tyke?” The 
Crippled Old Lady came up, shaking as with palsy. “A glorious good 
morning to you, my good man,” she said to Gnevni. 

“And a fine morning to you, my lady,” he said. 

“What? You’re not supposed to say that! You’re supposed to kick my 
crutches out from under me and then knock me down and trample on 
me. It helps get you in your mood. Crippled Old ladies are infuriating 
sights to the Very Angry Men; they make them even angrier. Everybody 
knows that.” 

“I just don’t believe that I will do it today, ah — Margaret, is that not 
your name? A fine day to you, my dear.” 

“Knock off that fine day stuff! I have my job to do. I’m a mood piece. 
You blow-tops are supposed to kick out my crutches and tromp me down 
to get in your mood. Now start kicking or I’ll report you.” “Do so if you 
must, my dear.” 

Gnevni went to his job in the Cortin Institute Building, and there he 

was good for nothing. 

Mad? He wasn’t even sullen. He was puzzled and pleasant, and when 
you have one of the old stand-bys go pleasant on you you’re in trouble. He 
was civil to everybody and gave them all the jitters. He completed his 
mechanical tasks in an houur — finding them much easier when he 
attacked them calmly. But he wasn’t supposed to find them easier. 

So there was ecostemation in the Department. Gnevni had been the 
best producer of them all. They couldn’t let him go by like that. 

“Damn you, get mad!” under-doctor Cotrel shouted and shook him. 
“We won’t have any malingering on the job. Get mad and start putting 

“I just don’t seem able to get mad today,” said Gnevni honestly. “You 
double-damned will get mad, you crudhead!” pursued under-doctor 
Cotrel. Cotrel seemed rather upset himself. “Under-doctor Devon! Over¬ 
doctor Ratracer! Director Duggle! Come help me with this pig-headed 
fellow. He won’t get mad.” 

“He’s got to get mad,” said underdoctor Devon. “We’ll make the filth¬ 
eating fink get mad.” 

“It looks bad,” said Director Duggle. “He was at only half efficiency 
yesterday, and today he’s good for nothing at all. Well, put him through 
the routine. We can’t have him going sour at us.” 

They put him through the routine. It was brutal. It would have made a 
roaring devil out of the sweetest saint. Even spectators commonly became 
white with fury when such a thing was put on, and there was no limit to 
the effect on the victim. Gnevni endured it with composed sorrow but 
without anger. And when even the routine didn’t work what more could 
you do to him? 

Under-doctor Cotrel began to cuff and kick him: “Get mad, you slimy 
sulphurous son of a she shink! Get mad, you mud-headed old monkey! 
Get mad, you dirt-eating mutt-head! You slobber-mouthed donkey, get 

They brought in others. They even brought in Peredacha — hoping she 
would have a more positive effect on him than she had had the day 
before. But Gnevni brightened up to see her. 

“Ah, it is my little daughter! I sent you notes at intervals through the 
evening and night, but I guess you did not receive them. It is so wonderful 
just to see you again.” 

“Why you bat-whiskered old bum, was it you who sent those notes? 
‘Sweet papa.’ You? By the shop where I was made, I never heard of 
anything like it before!” 

“Do not be cruel, Peredacha. You are all that I care for in the world. 
With you I could become a new man.” 

“Well, not being human I guess I can be humane. I’ll look after you, 
ugly papa. But they don’t want you to become a new man; as the old one 
you were the best they had. Come now, get mad for the people. It’s your 

“I know, but I’m unable to do it. I have been thinking, Peredacha, that 
since you are my daughter in a way — cortin of my cortin and adrenalin of 
my adrenalin — perhaps the two of us might go off somewhere and — ” 

“Holy howling hog!” Under-doctor Cotrel took off in a screech too 
high for the human ear to follow, so perhaps only Peredacha heard and 
flushed. And then Cotrel broke up completely. He kicked and beat on 
Gnevni. He shrilled and sobbed and gobbled. And when his sounds once 
more became intelligible it was a screaming, “Get mad, damn you, get 

Cotrel was a lean man, hut powerfully corded and muscled, and now 
every cord of muscle and nerve stood glaringly out on him black and 

That man was plain frantic in his displeasure at Gnevni. The flying 
foam from his lips flecked the room-something you would not have 
expected from under-doctor Cotrel. 

“It is all right,” said Director Duggle. “Gnevni was about finished in 
any case. The best of them are only good for a year or two — the pace is a 
terrific one. And we are lucky to have his replacement ready at hand.” 

“Replacement?” roared the livid Cotrel. “He’s got to get mad! There 
isn’t any replacement.” And he continued to strike Gnevni. 

“I believe that the director has you in mind, Cotrel,” said over-doctor 
Ratracer. “Yes. I am sure of it.” 

“Me? I am under-doctor Cotrel! I make five hundred Guzman d’or a 

“And now you will make five,” said Director Duggle. “Grinding poverty 
is a concomitant of your new job. I had suspected you had a talent for it. 
Now I am sure. You begin immediately. You become the latest, and soon I 
hope the best, of the Very Angry Men.” 

Cotrel became so, and immediately. Gnevni had been good. Wut 
before him had been one of the best. But for carrying-on noise and stink 
generally, there was never such an exhibition as Mad Man Cotrel now put 
on — getting into the spirit of his new job — he was the maddest man you 
ever saw! 


In those days there had been a clique of six men who controlled it all. 
Any new thing went to one of them — or it went nowhere. Discovery and 
invention cannot be allowed to break out all over the lot. 

These six men did not work in particular harmony. They were called 
the clique because they were set apart from others by their influence; and 
because of their names, which were: Claridge, Lone, Immermann, 
Quinn, Umholtz, and Easter. 

Now the six men were reduced to two. On successive days, Claridge, 
Lone, Immermann, and Quinn had disappeared — and they had done it 
pretty thoroughly. In each case, somebody had to know something about 
their disappearance; and in each case, that somebody refused to tell. 

Claridge’s man, Gueranger, had been with Claridge at the time of the 
disappeantnce or shortly before. He admitted that much. But nothing 
intelligent could be got from him. 

“The truth of it is that I don’t know the truth of it,” Gueranger 
insisted. “Yes, I was there, but I don’t know what happened.” 

“Don’t you know what you saw?” asked the investigator. 

“No, I don’t. That’s the whole point of the matter: I will not accept, 
and will not tell, what I saw. Certainly I know that I’m held on suspicion 
of murder. But where is the body? You find it - anywhere — in any shape 
and I’ll sure sleep better.” 

In the second ease, Ringer and Mayhall both seemed to know 
something of the disappearance of their employer, Lone. The three of 
them had walked in the plaza at evening. Only two of them had come 
back — and they much shaken. 

“I know what I seemed to see,” Ringer ventured, “and I will not tell it. 
I’m not stubborn and I’m not sensitive to laughter, but I’ve sealed the 
whole thing off in a corner of my mind and I won’t disturb it. I’ve hopes of 
hanging on to some pieces of my reason, and to open this again would set 
me back.” 

“Loric?” Mayhall grunted. “I guess the damned fool swallowed 
himself. He’s sure gone completely. Yes, I was with him, and I won’t say 
any nearer than that what happened.” 

“I simply will not explain,” said Immermann’s advisor, Hebert. “He is 
gone, and I do not believe he will be back. No. If it was a hoax, I wasn’t in 

on it, and I don’t understand it. Do I believe that he wished to disappear 
for a private reason? Did he — wherever he has gone — go willingly? No, 
gentlemen, he did not go willingly! I never saw a man so reluctant to go.” 

“I will not say what happened to Mr. Quinn,” said Pacheco, Quinn’s 
assistant. “Of course I know that he was an important man — the most 
important in the world to me. You say that you will have answers out of 
me one way or the other? Then you’ll have nothing but babbling out of a 
crazy man. 

“Why, yes, I suppose that you can hang me for murder. I don’t know 
how those things are worked. It seems extreme, however. I thought there 
was a Latin phrase involved, about a body being required. Lay off now, 
fellows. I’m cracking up, I tell you.” 

The investigators didn’t lay off, but so far they had got nothing out of 
any of the witnesses. The four disappearances had to be as one, and the 
witnesses were certainly of a pattern. 

“Are Extraterrestrials Kidnapping Our Top Talent?” the news banners 

“Oh, hell,” said Umholtz in his cluttered office. “Hell,” said Easter in 
his clean one. They both knew that they were not men of any particular 
talent, and that the four men who had disappeared were not. They were 
shufflers and dealers in talent, that is all. In popular idea, they were 
responsible for the inventions they marketed. But off-Earth people — 
bent on such showy kidnappings — would have picked off seminal 
geniuses and not talent brokers. 

Four gone, two to go. Would the next one be Umholtz or Easter? 
Umholtz felt that it would be himself. He and his assistant, Planter, were 
worrying about it together when Shartel the aide came in to them. 

“There’s one to see you, Mr. Umholtz,” said Shartel with diffidence, 
for he was only half the bulk of his employer. 

“An inventor?” Umholtz always sneered with his eyebrows when he 
spoke that word, although inventors were the only stock he dealt in. 

“Who else comes to see us, Mr. Umholtz? This one may be worth 
investigating, though probably not for any invention he has.” 

“A crackie? What does he have?” 

“A crackie from end to end, and he won’t say what he has.” 

“We’re not scanning clients these days, Shartel. I explain that to you 
every ten minutes. We’re spending all our time worrying about the 

disappearances. Creative worry, Planter here calls it, and I don’t 
appreciate his humor. I haven’t time for a crackie today.” 

“He got to see Claridge, Lone, Immermann, and Quinn — all a couple 
of hours before their disappearance.” 

“All inventors make the same rounds. There’s nobody else they can go 
to. And weren’t there a couple of others who saw them all?” 

“The others have all been checked out clean. This is the last one. The 
authorities have been looking for him and have left word to call if he 
showed. I’ll ring them as soon as he’s in here. There’s a slim chance that 
he knows something, but he sure doesn’t look it.” 

“Send him in, Shartel. Has he a name?” 

“Haycock. And he looks as though he had slept in one.” 

Haycock didn’t really have hay in his hair — that was only the color 
and lay of it. He had blue eyes with happy, dangerous gold specks in 
them, and a friendly and humorous sneer. He looked rather an impudent 
comedian, but inventors come in all sizes. He had something of the back- 
country hayseed in him. But also something of the panther. 

“I have here what may turn out to be a most useful device,” Haycock 
began. “Good. You have sent the underlings away. I never talk in their 
presence. They’re inclined to laugh at me. I am offering you the 
opportunity to get in on the top floor with my device, Mr. Umholtz.” 

“Haycock, you have the aspect of a man entranced by one of the four 
basic fallacies. If so, you are wasting my time. But I want to question you 
on a side issue. Is it true that you visited all four of them — Claridge, 
Lone, Immermano, and Quinn — on the days of their disappearances?” 

“Sounds like their names. Four blind bats! None of them could see my 
invention at first. All of them laughed at it. Forget those fools, Umholtz. 
You can grow new fools, but what I have here is unique. It is the 
impossible invention.” 

“By the impossible inventor, from the looks of you. I hold up four 
fingers, and one is it. Tell it in one word, Haycock!” 


“Fourth finger. It’s not even the season for anti-grav, Haycock. These 
things go in cycles. We get most of the anti-gravs in early winter. All right, 
I give you four seconds to demonstrate. Raise that table off the floor with 
your device.” 

“It’s barely possible that I could raise it, Umholtz, but not in four 

seconds. It would take several hours; instant demonstration is out. It’s a 
pretty erratic piece of machinery, though I’ve had good luck on my last 
several attempts. It isn’t really very impressive, and a lot of what I tell you 
you’ll have to take on faith.” 

“Haven’t any, Haycock. Even a charlatan can usually put on a good 
show. Why the two pieces? One looks like a fishing tackle box, and the 
other like a sheaf of paper.” 

“The papers are the mathematics of it, Umholtz. Look at the equations 
carefully and you’ll be convinced without a demonstration.” 

“All right. I pride myself on the speed I bring to spotting these basic 
errors, Haycock. They seem very commonplace equations, and then they 
break off when it’s plain that you’re getting nowhere. What happened to 
the bottom of these sheets?” 

“Oh, my little boy ate that part of them. Just go ahead and you’ll pick 
up the continuity again. Ah, you’re at the end of it and you laugh! Yes, is it 
not funny how simple every great truth is?” 

“I’ve seen them all, Haycock, and this is one of the most transparent. 
The only thing wrong with it is that it won’t work and it’s as full of holes 
as a seine.” 

“But it does work part of the time, Umholtz, and we’ll fill up the holes 
till it’s practical. Well, is it a deal? It’ll take a couple of years; but if you’ll 
start plenty of money rolling, I’ll get on with the project in a big way. Why 
do you roll your eyes like that, Umholtz? Is there a history of apoplexy in 
your family?” 

“I will be all right in a moment, Haycock. I am afflicted by inventors, 
but I recover quickly. Let us set the gadget aside for the moment. Do you 
know where the four now-celebrated men have gone?” 

“Papers said it was as if they had disappeared from the Earth. I 
imagine they sent a reporter or someone to check on it.” 

“Take Claridge, for instance,” said Umholtz, “Did he seem disturbed 
when you last saw him?” 

“I think he was the little one. He was kind of boggle-eyed, just like you 
were a minute ago. Kind of mad at me for wasting his time. Well pig’s 
pants! I wasted my time, too! Blind as a bat, that man. Don’t think he was 
convinced that my thing would work till maybe right at the end. Now let’s 
get back to my instrument. It will do a variety of jobs. Even you can see 
where it would be useful.” 

“It would be, if it worked, and it won’t. Your piece of mathematics is 
childish, Haycock.” 

“Might be. I don’t express myself well in that medium. But my 
machine does work. It creates negative gravity. That is, it works quite a 
bit of the time.” 

Umholtz laughed. He shouldn’t have, but he didn’t know. And he did 
have an ugly sort of laugh. 

“You laugh at me!” Haycock howled out. Gold fire popped from his 
eyes and he was very angry. The hayseed began to look like the panther. 
He touched his machine, and it responded with a sympathetic ping! to the 
anger of its master. 

Umholtz was having fun with the now-blazing inventor. 

“What do you do, Haycockandbull, turn that machine on and point it 
at something?” he guffawed. Umholtz enjoyed deriding a fellow. 

“You hopeless hulk! I turned it on a minute ago when you laughed at 
me. It’s working on you now. You’ll be convinced in the end,” Haycock 

“Do you not know, Haycock, that anti-grav is the standing joke in our 
profession? But they still come in with it, and they all have that same look 
in their eyes.” 

“Umholtz, you lie! Nobody else ever had this look in his eye!” 

That was true. The gold specks in the blue eyes glinted in a mad way. 
The eyes did not focus properly. It seemed to Umholtz that Haycock did 
not look at him, but through him and beyond. The man might well he a 
maniac — the sort of maniac who could somehow be involved in the four 
disappearances. Never mind, they were coming for him. They’d be here 
any minute. 

“Anti-grav is a violation of the laws of mass and energy,” Umholtz 

“To change the signature of a mass from plus to minus is not a 
violation of any law I recognize,” said Haycock evenly. “It is no good for 
you to justify now, Umholtz, or to find excuses. It is no use to plead for 
your life. Are you deaf as well as blind and stupid? I told you plainly that 
the demonstration had already begun. You were all a stubborn lot, but I 
convinced all four of them in the end, and I’ll convince you. I tell you, 
Umholtz, that entrenched stupidity makes me mad, and when I get mad I 
sure do get mean. I’ve cancelled you out, you open idiot! Umholtz, I’ll 

send you away screaming!” 

“Rather I’ll send you away in that act,” Umholtz purred, for the men in 
black were now into the room, and they laid legal hands on Haycoek. 

“Take him away,” Umholtz grunted out. “He’s fishier than Edward’s 

Haycock didn’t go away screaming, but he went roaring and fighting. 
That man was very mean, and those gold specks in his eyes were really 

Say, they couldn’t get a thing out of that fellow. Haycock was an odd 
one, but that was all. They went over him from the beginning. He was 
known in his own neighborhood for his unsuccessful inventions and for 
his towering temper, but he hadn’t any bodies lying around, and he 
hadn’t been anywhere near any of the four men at the time of their 

He was a crackie from end to end, but he hadn’t a handle they could 
get hold of. 

“I am not ghoulish,” Umholtz said to his men Planter and Shartel, 
“but the disappearance of four of my five competitors has opened up 
some pretty obvious opportunities for me. Oh, other men will be 
designated to replace them, hut it’ll be a long time before they get that 

“What did the crackie have this afternoon, Mr. Umholtz?” Planter 
asked him. 

“It isn’t worth mentioning. One of the oldest and silliest.” 

The three of them were walking in the park in the evening. 

“I suddenly feel odd,” said Umholtz and he placed one hand on his 
head and the other on his paunch. “Something I ate for supper didn’t 
agree with me.” 

“It’s the worry,” said Planter. “The disappearances have upset you. 
With the thought that you might be next on the list, there has been a great 
weight on you.” 

“I really feel as though a great weight has been lifted off me,” said 
Umholtz, “but I don’t like the feeling. I’m light-headed.” 

“The walk will do you good,” Planter told him. “You look well to me. 
I’ve never seen you move with so light a step.” 

“No, no, I’m sick,” Umholtz moaned, and he began to look up in the 
air as though fearful of an attack from that sector. “My feet don’t track 

right. There’s a lightness in me. My stomach is turning inside out. Lord, 
but it would be a long way to fall!” 

Umholtz flopped his way forward, his feet slipping on the grass as 
though he had lost traction. He got hold of the tree — a small elm. 

“I’m starting to go!” he howled in real terror. 

He put a bear hug around the tree, locking on to it with both arms and 
legs. “Great dancing dogfish, don’t let me fall,” he sobbed. “How did I 
ever get so high up?” 

“Umholtz, you are six inches from the ground,” Planter told him. “The 
man’s gone mad, Shartel. Let’s pry his legs loose first. When we get his 
feet on the ground he may get over his mania about falling.” 

“Fools! Fools! You’ll let me fall all the way down,” Umholtz screamed, 
but he was looking upward, and his face was flushed as though all the 
blood had run to his head. 

“He was right,” Umholtz sniffled wetly in an interlude from his 
screaming and sobbing. “I’m finally convinced.” 

“There’s one leg loose, Shartel,” said Planter as he worked on 
Umholtz, “but for some reason it seems pretty difficult to hold it to the 
ground. Now the other leg, and we’ll set him down on his feet. Whoops! 
What’s wrong? You’re going up with him, Shartel!” 

Shartel did go up with him at first, for Umholtz was much the heavier 
man. But Shartel broke away and fell a dozen feet down to the grass. 

Umholtz grabbed a precarious lodging in the tree top, but he was 
shearing off fronds and branches and going fast. 

“For God’s sake, get me up from here!” Umholtz screamed, hanging 
upward from the topmost branch. He was like a tethered balloon tugging 
at its mooring. 

“Throw a rope down to me! Do something!” he sobbed upsidedownly 
from the tree top. “I’ll fall all the way, and I can’t even see bottom.” 

The topmost branch broke, and Umholtz fell off the world. 

He fell upward into the evening sky, his scream drop-ping in pitch as 
he accelerated. He fell end over end, diminishing till he was only a dot in 
the sky. Then he was gone. 

“What will we tell people - what — what can we say — however explain 
— how explain what we seen seem —” Shartel rattled, the bones in his 
body shaking like poker dice in a toss box. 

“You tell your he and I’ll tell mine,” Planter grumbled. “I’m crazy, but 

I’m not crazy enough to have seen that.” 

Of the clique, only Easter was left. He was the most even-minded of 
the bunch and the least inclined to worry. It had been a peculiar series of 
events that had devoured his competitors, but he hadn’t been able to base 
any theory on the disappearances. If he continued, he would he next. 

“I may try a little worrying myself,” he mused. “A man of my sort 
shouldn’t neglect any field of cogitation. I’ll give it a try. It should come 
easy for me today.” 

So Easter worried, but he didn’t do it well. It isn’t easy if you haven’t 
the lifetime habit of it. 

Then a man came in to him unannounced. 

This was a man with hay-colored hair, with blue eyes with happy 
dangerous gold specks in them, a man with a friendly and humorous 
sneer. He had something of the hayseed in him. But also something of the 

“I have here what may turn out to be a most useful device,” Haycock 


This was on Hippodamia. The name isn’t important. There were ten 
thousand asteroid-stations as undistinguished. 

Netter settled back into the soft live-moss chair and prepared to talk 
the Creature out of the impasse. Then he saw the big moustached thing 
on the wall and he began to tremble. 

After all, that was one of the things he had come to find-it was pait of 
it. It was the great beefy, bearded, moustached head of Captain Kalbfleish 
mounted on the wall like a trophy, and amid the other trophies of the 

“Great God, Man!” — and it wasn’t a man to whom he spoke — “That’s 
a human head you have mounted on the wall,” Netter crackled. 

“Which Great God, yours or mine?” Porcellus grunted. “They aren’t 
the same, or they have been described badly. Yes, a human head. I had 
always wanted one. You notice that I have given it the favored position in 
the center of the great wall. I now have at least one of the heads of every 
species that interests me. Some of the heads are much larger than that of 
your friend Kalbfleish and have ornamentals that his lacks. It’s a pity that 
humans don’t have sweeping horns; that would make them perfect. But 
even without them, the head of Kalbfleish is the finest in my collection. 
It’s a truly magnificent head!” 

It was. “Kalbfleish has a fine head on him” they wed to say, and laugh. 
The big Captain, for all his remarkable courage and spirit, had not been 
long on brains. It was a huge, wild, hairy head with a stark and staring 
expression — as though Kalbfleish had died in terror and agony. 

“You killed him, of course,” said Netter dryly as he braided a romal in 
his nervous hands. “So, one way or the other, I will have to kill you, or 
you me. 

“Not I,” said Porcellus — a moist and hog-fat creature — “I would not 
even kill an insect. Your friend had a violent heart and it finally ruptured 
on him. He was uncommonly energetic, especially so on the day of his 

“Where is his body, you fat pig?” 

“My translator has only a rough idea of pig, and I suppose you intend 
it for an insult; but I have a tough hide. I couldn’t do a thing with his 
body, Netter, it was putrid in no time. It seems that when you humans 

know you are going to die you would begin to give yourself the injections 
three or four basic days before the time; then your bodies would not turn 
foul after death. I had no idea he had neglected it, so I wasn’t prepared. I 
was lucky to save the head.” 

“We humans don’t know when we are going to die,” said Netter. 
“What is this you give me to eat? It’s good.” 

“Yes, I remember now Kalbfleish saying he didn’t know when he 
would die, but I supposed he spoke in humor. Since you also sayv it, it 
must be true of your species. The name of the food would mean nothing 
to you, but you have a close parallel to its method of preparation. I have 
read about geese in an Earth book of the captains, though I overlooked 
pigs. You sometimes put live geese — to dance on hot griddles before 
they are killed. This excites and alarms them, and enlarges their livers. 
The livers then become delicacies. The creatures whose meat you are 
eating also died of excitement and alarm, and they are delicious through 
and through.” 

Well, the meat was certainly delicious. That fat hog of a creature 
knew how to live well. Netter finished the meal and set it aside. Once 
more he braided the romal in his hands while he grasped for words. 

“I suppose all the creatures whose heads you have here died by 
accident, Porcellus?” he asked. 

“Well, all but one of them died,” said Porcellus, “and I did not kill 
them. One of them died at a great distance from here; he willed me his 
head and had it sent to me because I had admired it. And one of them, so 
far as I know, is still alive. He was a being of multiplex heads. He hacked 
one of them off quite willingly when I praised it, and he cured and 
mounted it himself. A queer chap. He is staring down at you now and it 
will amuse you to guess which lie is.” 

Porcellus didn’t actually speak like that. He spoke in a series of grunts, 
some verbal and some ventral. But the Console Translator of Netter had a 
selector dial. Netter could dial translation in pidgin, in cut and dry, in 
bombast, in diplomatic pleasantry, in old southern U.S. softqalk or 
Yiddish dialect if he wished, or in the manner. Whenever he encountered 
a creature who was curtly repulsive to him — as Porcellus was — he dialed 
the courtly manner of speech. This was somehow easier on his ears and 
his nerves. 

“We waste time,” Netter told the creature. “I have come to pursue 

claim to this asteroid. We now need it for a way-station, and it has never 
worked well for two such different species to share a station. We had first 
claimn here long ago; and we abandoned it. Then you set up your station 
here; and you also abandoned it.” 

“Never,” said Porcellus. “Would I abandon my cozy home and my 
trophies? Would my masters wish the removal of so fine a station-master 
as myself? I was called Home on urgent business. I was go he but for a 
basic year, and the odds were very high against any other claimer coming 
while I was gone.” 

“The rules state that a live and competent agent must be in residence 
at all times or the asteroid can be declared abandoned,” Netter said. “The 
asteroid was plainly abandoned when Kalbfleish arrived; you were gone. 
He so reported it, and he claimed it for us. The claim was approved and 

“True,” said the creature Porcellus. “What is that thing you play with 
in your hands? But Captain Kalbfleish — following the awkward interval 
after I had returned — also abandoned the station by dying. I so reported 
his death, and claimed the station for ourselves once more. The claim was 
approved and accepted. Now you are here as my guest only and, I tell you 
in all kindness, not a very welcome one. 

“But a proved murder will void your claim,” said Netter. 

“So prove it, fine man,” said the creature Porcellus. “Yours is a smaller 
head than Kalbfleish’s but it has a certain distinction. I could make room 
for it among my trophies. We have each of us sent various reports, and 
the matter is under litigation. In the meanwhile, the accidental death of 
either of us would void his claim and settle the matter. We cannot kill 
directly. Investigators are already on the way and we are both prime 
suspects; we are the only ones here. What is the leather thing with which 
you play?” 

“A romal, Porcellus. A short quirt braided onto a rein. They made 
them in Old Mexico and in California and Texas, but they were mostly 

“Earth places all three, my translator says. Were they used with a 

“With a pony, a horse.” 

“Haven’t I stumbled onto the information that the horse is extinct?” 

“Yes. The braiding of the little thing is only a hobby of mine.” 

“A hobby, according to my comprehensive translator, is a sort of 
vicarious horse — a mental surrogate which one rides. Is that correct?” 

“Correct, Porcellus. Haven’t you a hobby?” 

“My hobby is heads,” said the thing. 

Netter started to leave the creature then to go to his own camp. “To 
the early and accidental death of one of us,” he toasted with the last of the 
drink that Porcellus had given him. 

“Shoals!” toasted Porcellus. “I believe that is your word. And a 
warning: stay away from the low dome which you will see on the plain. 
It’s dangerous.” 

Netter went to his own camp. 

Now Porcellus wanted him to go to the curious dome — or he would 
not have warned him away from it. Was it dangerous? Or did the thing 
merely want to divert him? Porcellus must have known that he would 
explore every feature of landscape on the small asteroid. Perhaps it was 
only to worry him, as Porcellus himself had seemed to be worried. And 
what in hog heaven can worry a hog? Netter had it after a while. “He 
knows when he’s going to die. He’s surprised that humans haven’t that 
knowledge. But can I depend on it? It’s only a twice removed guess. 

Netter left the dome till last. He circumnavigated the asteroid in a 
brisk six-mile walk and found nothing of interest. He came thoughtfully 
to the dome on the plain. 

The dome rose to no more than the height of his head in the center, 
was about sixty feet in diameter, was symmetrical in general outline but 
with a slightly roughened surface, and was probably artificial. “I believe it 
is an old direction beacon of the Forcines.” he said. “Yes, this is certainly 
the top of an obsolete hemisphere, and the most of it is under ground. 
They were no good. I believe that we had them once.” 

Netter stepped gingerly onto the sphere. It was certainly firm enough. 
He knew a firm thing when he met one. There was no danger of him 
crashing through. He climbed the steep, then the less steep elevation of it 
and came to the center. “Nice,” he said, “but nothing.” Then he felt it 
activated. “So Porcellus still uses it,” he said, “I didn’t realize that they 
were so backward.” 

He walked around on it, and it rotated gently under him, 
compensating for him. He strode down the side a little way, and it quickly 
brought him back to the top. “This could he fun,” he said. 

He could take three, four quick steps away from the top, and he would 
still be on top. He could tense to jump sideways, and the sphere would 
compensate before he left the surface; he’d still land exactly on the center 
whichever way he jumped. The thing rolled easily and noiselessly and 
anticipated or reacted immediately to every movement. He walked, he 
ran, he laughed, he trotted half a mile and stood where he had stood 

“You know tricks and I know tricks, old sphere,” he shouted, “let’s see 
who’s the smarter.” He feinted, he broke, he dodged, he ran crazy-legged 
as though he were broken-field dribbling at Galactic-rules football. He 
shucked off tacklers, he scored countless goals in his mind, but he always 
ended on the very center top of the dome. 

He lay down and rolled, trying to go down the steep far slopes as 
though they were grass banks. He stopped rolling and lay on his back, 
and he was still on the top of the rotating compensating sphere or dome. 

“I haven’t had so much fun since I was a boy in an amusement park,” 
he said. 

He hadn’t? Then why did he suddenly begin to tremble? Why did he 
begin to whistle so off-key if he wasn’t scared? “Stone walls do not a 
pokey make nor locks a —” it was the Cross-Bar Hotel Blues he was 
whistling and he had to stop it. 

He was locked tight in jail on a little hillock in the middle of a plain, 
and there was no barrier in sight. There was no possible way he could get 
off the compensating dome. 

He was imprisoned in the highest most open spot on the asteroid. In 
an hour of cavorting and hopping about he had not got one full step from 
where he started, and there was no possible way that he could. 

He thought about it for a full Hippodamia day and night-forty-five 
minutes basic time. He couldn’t come up with a thing. 

“If I had a rope and you had a stump,” he said talking to no one, “I’d 
rope the stump — I’m good at that — and pull myself off this thing.” 

But he didn’t have a rope and the plain sure didn’t have a stump. It 
had hardly a pebble as big as his thumb. 

“This is where Kalbfleish died,” said Netter. “You said it right, pig 
man, my friend had a violent heart and it finally ruptured on him. You 
didn’t have to murder him directly. You let him run himself to death. He 
was uncommonly energetic, as you said’ and especially so on the day of 

his death. I can see it all now. He could never stand to be confined. He 
would have gone wild when he found himself confined in what seemed 
the most open space on the asteroid. He’d have run till he ruptured every 
thing in him. It is no wonder that he died with that look of horror.” 

This was a jail that nobody could break. Why try more tricks on the 
sphere? It could compensate for every trick that was. 

A creature that could fly in zero atmosphere could get off of this, he 
mused. “Even a worm couldn’t crawl off unless he were too small to affect 
the compensators. If I had two cant hooks I might be able to fool the 
thing, but it could no doubt compensate for the resolution of forces. If I 
had a weight on a line I might puzzle it a little, but not much. Porkey has 
it made. I’ll die either of starvation or exertion or insanity, but the 
investigation will not show that I was murdered. ‘Why have two humans 
died of heart attack here?’ is the most they can ask him, and Porkey will 
mb his hands and say ‘Bad climate.’“ 

But what Porky Porcellus really said was: 

“Fine man, why do you play like a boy on top of that thing? Is that any 
way for a hopeful asteroid agent to conduct himself?” 

“Porcellus, you think you’ve trapped me, do you?” flared Netter. 

“I trap you? My hands are clean. Is it my fault that two humans 
develop the strange mania of running themselves to death in a weird 

How far away was Porcellus from the edge of the dome? Too far. Too 
far by several yards. 

“Porcellus, what is this thing?” Netter cried out. 

“Once it was a beam sphere, as you have probably guessed, and it is 
obsolete. I have altered it to something else. Now it is an intelligence test. 
To fail it is to die.” 

“Did anyone ever get off it?” Netter called. He had to get Porcellus 
interested. He had to get him to come several feet closer before he turned 

“Only one passed the intelligence test,” said the creature, “and he had 
unusual natural advantages. He was a peculiar fellow of the species Larrik 
who visited me some basic years ago. He simply broke himself into two 
pieces and walked off in opposite directions. The globe couldn’t 
compensate for both of them. One got clear, obtained a line, pulled his 
other half off; both halves laughed at me, and then they rejoined 

themselves. But you haven’t his advantage, Netter. You have failed the 

“I’ll find a way,” swore Netter. “I’ll find a trick.” Just a little bit closer 
now would do it. 

“You lose, Netter,” said Porcellus. “There is no fixed thing on the plain 
you could tie to even if you had a way of reaching it. The longest thing you 
have with you is what you call the romal, and it’s no longer than your 

Porcellus was close enough. Right at the end of the dome. When he 
turned it would be perfect — somewhere between thirty-two and thirty- 
five feet. There was no fixed thing on the plain, but there was a thing 
heavy enough to serve for a fixed thing. The romal of Netter was no 
longer than his arm, but it was a romal rey, a king romal. 

Porcellus turned away in his triumph. The light-thin lariat flew and 
dropped over his bulk. And Netter pulled himself off the dome in less 
time than you can say Porky Porcellus. 

The fat hulk was no match for Netter when he was on solid non¬ 
compensating ground. He hog-tied the Hog-man with the thin leather 
line and rolled him onto the dome. And Porcellus was immediately on the 
center top of the dome to stay there till he died of hunger or uncommon 
exertion or porcine apoplexy. 

Netter was moving things about in the fine Trophy Room which he 
had recently inherited. He set a fine hard wood peg into the wall and 
hung on it the king romal for which he now had especial affection. The 
king romal is so intricately braided that one moment it will be a thick 
quirt no longer than your arm; but unlace one keeper and it immediately 
becomes a thin strand lariat forty foot long counting the loop. Hardly 
anyone knows how to braid a romal rey nowadays. 

He moved many things in the trophy room. He wanted the set thing to 
be just right. He knew just what space it should occupy on that great wall. 
The investigation was over with and Netter’s claim had been accepted. He 
was now asteroid station-master — a good job. 

The head was ready. It had been cured out and tanned and treated, 
and the eye-tushers were polished till they gleamed. 

Porcellus had a truly magnificent head! 


A panhandler intercepted the young couple as they strolled down the 
night street. 

“Preserve us this night,” he said as he touched his hat to them, “and 
could you good people advance me a thousand dollars to be about the 
recouping of my fortunes?” 

“I gave you a thousand last Friday,” said the young man. 

“Indeed you did,” the panhandler replied, “and I paid you back tenfold 
by messenger before midnight” 

“That’s right, George, he did,” said the young woman. “Give it to him, 
dear. I believe he’s a good sort.” 

So the young man gave the panhandler a thousand dollars, and the 
panhandler touched his hat to them in thanks and went on to the 
recouping of his fortunes. 

As he went into Money Market, the panhandler passed Ildefonsa 
Impala, the most beautiful woman in the city. 

“Will you marry me this night, Ildy?” he asked cheerfully. 

“Oh, I don’t believe so, Basil,” she said. “I marry you pretty often, but 
tonight I don’t seem to have any plans at all. You may make me a gift on 
your first & second, however. I always like that.” 

But when they had parted she asked herself: “But whom will I marry 

The panhandler was Basil Bagelbaker, who would be the richest man 
in the world within an hour and a half. He would make and lose four 
fortunes within eight hours; and these not the little fortunes that ordinary 
men acquire, but titanic things. 

When the Abebajos block had been removed from Human minds, 
people began to make decisions faster, And often better. It had been the 
mental stutter. When it was understood what it was, and that it had no 
useful function, it was removed by simple childhood metasurgery. 

Transportation and manufacturing had then become practically 
instantaneous. Things that had once taken months and years now took 
only minutes and hours. A person could have one or several pretty 
intricate careers within an eight-hour period. 

Freddy Fixico had just invented a manus module. Freddy was a 
Nyctalops, and the modules were characteristic of these people. The 

people had then divided themselves — according to their natures and 
inclinations — into the Auroreans, the Hemerobians, and the Nyctalops 
— or the Dawners, who had their most active hours from four A.M. till 
noon; the Day-Flies, who obtained from noon to eight P.M.; and the 
Night-Seers, whose civilization thrived from eight P.M. to four A.M. The 
cultures, inventions, markets and activities of these three folk were a little 
different. As a Nyctalops, Freddy had lust begun his working day at eight 
P.M. on a slow Tuesday night; Freddy rented an office and had it 
furnished. This took one minute, negotiation, selection and installation 
being almost instantaneous. Then he invented the manus module; that 
took another minute. He then had it manufactured and marketed; in 
three minutes it was in the hands of key buyers. 

It caught on. It was an attractive module. The flow of orders began 
within thirty seconds. By ten minutes after eight every important person 
had one of the new manus modules, and the trend had been set. The 
module began to sell in the millions. It was one of the most interesting 
fads of the night, or at least the early part of the night. 

Manus modules had no practical function, no more than had Sameki 
verses, They were attractive, of a psychologically satisfying size and 
shape, and could be held in the hands, set on a table, or installed in a 
module niche of any wall. 

Naturally Freddy became very rich. Ildefonsa Impala, the most 
beautiful woman in the city, was always interested in newly rich men. She 
came to see Freddy about eight-thirty. People made up their minds fast, 
and Ildefonsa had hers made up when she came. Freddy made his own up 
quickly and divorced Judy Fixico in Small Claims Court. Freddy and 
Ildefonsa went honeymooning to Paraiso Dorado, a resort. 

It was wonderful. All of Ildy’s marriages were. There was the 
wonderful floodlighted scenery. The recirculated water of the famous falls 
was tinted gold; the immediate rocks had been done by Rambles; and the 
hills had been contoured by Spall. The beach was a perfect copy of that at 
Merevale, and the popular drink that first part of the night was blue 

But scenery — whether seen for the first time or revisited after an 
interval — is strring for the sudden intense view of it. It is not meant to be 
lingered over. Food, selected and prepared instantly, is eaten with swift 
enjoyment; and blue absinthe lasts no longer than its own novelty. 

Loving, for Ildefonsa and her paramours, was quick and consuming; and 
repetition would have been pointless to her. Besides, Ildefonsa and 
Freddy had taken only the one-hour luxury honeymoon. 

Freddy wished to continue the relationship, but Ildefonsa glanced at a 
trend indicator. The manus module would hold its popularity for only the 
first third of the night. Already it had been discarded by people who 
mattered. And Freddy Fixico was not one of the regular successes. He 
enjoyed a full career only about one night a week. 

They were back in the city and divorced in Small Claims Court by nine 
thirty-five. The stock of manus modules was remandered, and the last of 
it would be disposed to bargain hunters among the Dawners, who will 
buy anything. 

“Whom shall I marry next?” Ildefonsa asked herself. “It looks like a 
slow night.” 

“Bagelbaker is buying,” ran the word through Money Market, but 
Bagelbaker was selling again before the word had made its rounds. Basil 
Bagelbaker enjoyed making money, and it was a pleasure to watch him 
work as he dominated the floor of the Market and assembled runners and 
a competent staff out of the corner of his mouth. Helpers stripped the 
panhandler rags off him and wrapped him in a tycoon toga. He sent one 
runner to pay back twentyfold the young couple who had advanced him a 
thousand dollars. He sent another with a more substantial gift to 
Ildefonsa Impala, for Basil cherished their relationship. Basil acquired 
title to the Trend Indication Complex and had certain falsifications set 
into it. He caused to collapse certain industrial empires that had grown 
up within the last two hours, and made a good thing of recombining their 
wreckage. He had been the richest man in the world for some minutes 
now. He became so money-heavy that he could not maneuver with the 
agility he had shown an hour before. He became a great fat buck, and the 
pack of expert wolves circled him to bring him down. 

Very soon he would lose that first fortune of the evening. The secret of 
Basil Bagelbaker is that he enjoyed losing money spectacularly after he 
was full of it to the bursting point. 

A thoughtful man named Maxwell Mouser had just produced a work 
of actinic philosophy. It took him seven minutes to write it. To write 
works of philosophy one used the flexible outlines and the idea indexes; 
one set the activator for such a wordage in each subsection; an adept 

would use the paradox feed-in, and the striking-analogy blender; one 
calibrated the particular-slant and the personality-signature. It had to 
come out a good work, for excellence had become the automatic 
minimum for such productions. 

“I will scatter a few nuts on the frosting,” said Maxwell, and he pushed 
the lever for that. This sifted handfuls of words like chthonic and 
heuristic and prozymeides through the thing so that nobody could doubt 
it was a work of philosophy. 

Maxwell Mouser sent the work out to publishers, and received it back 
each time in about three minutes. An analysis of it and reason for 
rejection was always given — mostly that the thing had been done before 
and better. Maxwell received it back ten times in thirty minutes, and was 
discouraged. Then there was a break. 

Ladion’s work had become a hit within the last ten minutes, and it was 
now recognized that Mouser’s monograph was both an answer and a 
supplement to it. It was accepted and published in less than a minute 
after this break. The reviews of the first five minutes were cautious ones; 
then real enthusiasm was shown. This was truly one of the greatest works 
of philosophy to appear during the early and medium hours of the night 
There were those who said it might be one of the enduring works and 
even have a holdover appeal to the Dawners the next morning. 

Naturally Maxwell became very rich, and naturally Ildefonsa came to 
see him about midnight. Being a revolutionary philosopher, Maxwell 
thought that he might make some free arrangement, but Ildefonsa 
insisted it must be marriage. So Maxwell divorced Judy Mouser in Small 
Claims Court and went off with Ildefonsa. 

This Judy herself, though not so beautiful as Ildefonsa, was the fastest 
taker in the city. She only wanted the men of the moment for a moment, 
and she was always there before even Ildefonsa. Ildefonsa believed that 
she took the men away from Judy; Judy said that Ildy had her leavings 
and nothing else. 

“I had him first,” Judy would always mock as she raced through Small 
Claims Court. 

“Oh that damned urchin!” Ildefonsa would moan. “She wears my very 
hair before I do.” 

Maxwell Mouser and Ildefonsa Impala went honeymooning to 
Musicbox Mountain, a resort. It was wonderful. The peaks were done 

with green snow by Dunbar and Fittle. (Back at Money Market Basil 
Bagebaker was puffing together his third and greatest fortune of the 
night, which might surpass in magnitude even his fourth fortune of the 
Thursday before.) The chalets were Switzier than the real Swiss and had 
live oats in every room. (And Stanley Skuldugger was emerging as the top 
Actor-Imago of the middle hours of the night.) The popular drink for that 
middle part of the night was Glotzenglubber, Eve Cheese and Rhine wine 
over pink ice. (And back in the city the leading Nyctalops were taking 
their midnight break at the Toppers’ Club.) 

Of course it was wonderful, as were all of Ildefonsa’s — But she had 
never been really up on philosophy so she had scheduled only the special 
thirty-five-minute honeymoon. She looked at the trend indicator to be 
sure. She found that her current husband had been obsoleted, and his 
opus was now referred to sneeringly as Mouser’s Mouse. They went back 
to the city and were divoreed in Small Claims Court. 

The membership of the Toppers’ Club varied. Success was the 
requisite of membership. Basil Bagelbaker mighht be accepted as a 
member, elevated to the presidency and expelled from it as a dirty pauper 
from three to six times a night. But only important persons could belong 
to it, or those enjoying brief moments of importance. 

“I believe I will sleep during the Dawner period in the morning,” 
Overcall said. “I may go up to this new place, Koimopolis, for an hour of it 
They’re said to be good. Where will you sleep, Basil?” 

“Flop house.” 

“I believe I will sleep an hour by the Midian Method,” said 
Burnbanner. “They have a fine new clinic. And perhaps I’ll sleep an hour 
by the Prasenka Process, and an hour by the Dormidjo.” 

“Crackle has been sleeping an hour every period by the natural 
method,” said Overcall. 

“I did that for half an hour not long since,” said Burnbanner. “I believe 
an hour is too long to give it. Have you tried the natural method, Basil?” 

“Always. Natural method and a bottle of red-eye.” 

Stanley Skuldugger had become the most meteoric actor-imago for a 
week. Naturally he became very rich, and Ildefonsa Impala went to see 
him about three A.M. 

“I had him first!” rang the mocking voice of Judy Skuldugger as she 
skipped through her divorce in Small Claims Court. And Ildefonsa and 

Stanley-boy went off honeymooning. It is always fun to finish up a period 
with an actor-imago who is the hottest property in the business. There is 
something so adolescent and boorish about them. 

Besides, there was the publicity, and Ildefonsa liked that. The rumor- 
mills ground. Would it last ten minutes? Thtrty? An hour? Would it be 
one of those rare Nyctalops marriages that lasted through the rest of the 
night and into the daylight off-hours? Would it even last into the next 
night as some had been known to do? 

Actually it lasted nearly forty minutes, which was almost to the end of 
the period. 

It had been a slow Tuesday night. A few hundred new products had 
run their course on the market. There had been a score of dramatic hits, 
three-minute and five-minute capsule dramas, and several of the six 
minute long-play affairs. Night Street Nine — a solidly sordid offering — 
seemed to be in as the drama of the night unless there should be a late 

Hundred-storied buildings had been erected, occupied, obsoleted, and 
demolished again to make room for more contemporary structures. Only 
the mediocre would use a building that had been left over from the Day 
Fliers or the Dawners, or even the Nyctalops of the night before. The city 
was rebuilt pretty completely at least three times during an eight-hour 

The period drew near its end. Basil Bagelbaker, the richest man in the 
world, the reigning president of the Toppers’ Club, was enjoying himself 
with his cronies. His fourth fortune of the night was a paper pyramid that 
had risen to incredible heights; but Basil laughed himself as he savored 
the manipulation it was founded on. 

Three ushers of the Toppers’ Club came in with firm step. 

“Get out of here, you dirty bum,” they told Basil savagely. They tore 
the tycoon’s toga off him and then tossed him his seedy panhandler’s rags 
with a three-man sneer. 

“All gone?” Basil asked. “I gave it another five minutes.” 

“All gone,” said a messenger from Money Market. “Nine billion gone 
in five minutes, and it really pulled some others down with it.” 

“Pitch the busted bum out!” howled Overcall and Burnbanner and the 
other cronies. 

“Wait, Basil,” said Overcall. “Turn in the President’s Crosier before we 

kick you downstairs. After all, you’ll have it several times again tomorrow 

The period was over. The Nyctalops drifted off to sleep clinics or 
leisure-hour hideouts to pass their ebb time. The Auroreans, the 
Dawners, took over the vital stuff. 

Now you would see some action! Those Dawners really made fast 
decisions. You wouldn’t catch them wasting a full minute setting up a 

A sleepy panhandler met Ildefonsa Impala on the way. 

“Preserve us this morning, Ildy,” he said, “and will you marry in the 
coming night?” 

“Likely I will, Basil,” she told him. “Did you marry Judy during the 
night past?” 

“I’m not sure. Could you let me have two dollars, Ildy?” 

“Out of the question. I believe a Judy Bagelbaker was named one of 
the ten best-dressed women during the frou-frou fashion period about 
two o’clock. Why do you need two dollars?” 

“A dollar for a bed and a dollar for red-eye. After all, I sent you two 
million out of my second.” 

“I keep my two sorts of accounts separate. Here’s a dollar, Basil. Now 
be off! I can’t be seen talking to a dirty panhandler.” 

“Thank you, Ildy. I’ll get the red-eye and sleep in an alley. Preserve us 
this morning.” 

Bagelbaker shuffled off whistling “Slow Tuesday Night.” 

And already the Dawners had set Wednesday morning to jumping. 


Things were a bit crowded where they came from — and were getting 
that way here! 

Winston, the Civil Servant in Immigration and Arrivals, was puzzled 
when he came that morning. There were several hundred new people 
behind the cyclone fences, and no arrivals had been scheduled. 

“What ships landed?” he called out. “Why were they unscheduled?” 

“No ships landed, sir,” said Potholder, the senior guard. 

“Then how did these people get here? Walk down from the sky?” 
Winston asked snappishly. 

“Yes, sir, I guess so. We don’t know who they are or how they keep 
coming here. They say they are from Skandia.” 

“We have few Scandinavian arrivals, and none of such appearance as 
this,” said Winston. “How many are there?” 

“Well, sir, when we first noticed them there were seven, and they 
hadn’t been there a moment before.” 

“Seven? You’re crazy There are hundreds.” 

“Yes, sir. I’m crazy. A minute after there were seven, there were 
seventeen. But no more had come from anywhere. Then there were sixty. 
We separated them into groups of ten and watched them very closely. 
None crossed from one group to another, none came from anywhere else. 
But soon there were fifteen, then twenty-five, then thirty in each group. 
And there’s a lot more of them there now than when you started to talk to 
me a moment ago, Mr. Winston.” 

“Corcoran is my superior and will be here in a minute,” Winston said. 
“He’ll know what to do.” 

“Mr. Corcoran left just before you arrived, sir,” said Potholder. “He 
watched it a while, and then went away babbling.” 

“I always admired his quick grasp of a situation,” said Winston. He 
also went away babbling. 

There were about a thousand of those Skandia people, and a little later 
there were nine times that many. They weren’t dowdy people, but the 
area wouldn’t hold any more. The fences all went down, and the Skandias 
spread out into the city and towns and country. This was only the 
beginning of it. About a million of them materialized there that morning, 
then the same thing happened at ten thousand other Ports of Entry of 


“Mama,” said Trixie, “there are some people here who want to use our 
bathroom.” This was Beatrice (Trixie) Trux, a little girl in the small town 
of Winterfield. 

“What an odd request!” said Mrs. Trux. “But I suppose it is in the 
nature of an emergency. Let them in, Trixie. How many people are 

“About a thousand,” said Trixie. 

“Trixie, there can’t be that many.” 

“All right, you count them.” 

All the people came in to use the Trux’s bathroom. There were 
somewhat more than a thousand of them, and it took them quite a while 
to use the bathroom even though they put a fifteen-second limit on each 
one and had a timekeeper with a bell to enforce it. They did it all with a 
lot of laughter and carrying on, but it took that first bunch about five 
hours to go through, and by that time there were a lot more new ones 

“This is a little unusual,” Mrs. Trux said to some of the Skandia 
women. “I was never short on hospitality. It is our physical resources, not 
our willingness, that becomes strained. There are so many of you!” 

“Don’t give it a thought,” the Skandia women said. “It is the intent 
that counts, and it was so kind of you people to invite us. We seldom get a 
chance to go anywhere. We came a little early, but the main bunch will be 
along very soon. Don’t you just love to go visiting.” 

“Oh, yes, yes,” said Mrs. Trux. “1 never realized till now just how much 
I wanted to go visiting.” 

But when she saw the whole outdoors black with the new people, Mrs. 
Trux decided that she had better stay where she was. 

Truman Trux was figuring with a pencil. 

“Our lot is fifty feet by a hundred and fifty feet, Jessica,” he said. “That 
is either 7,500 or 75,000 square feet depending on how many zeroes you 
carry it out to.” 

“You were always good at math,” said Mrs. Trux. “How do you do it 

“And do you know how many people are living with us here on this lot, 
Jessica?” Truman asked. 

“Quite a few.” 

“I am guessing between six and seven thousand,” said Truman. “I 
found several more blocks of them this morning that I didn’t know about. 
They have a complete city built in our back yard. The streets are two and 
a half feet wide; the houses are eight feet by eight feet with six foot 
ceilings, and most of them are nine stories high. Whole families live in 
each room and cook there besides. They have shops and bazaars set up. 
They even have factories built. I know there is an entire wholesale textile 
district in our back yard. There are thirteen taverns and five music halls 
in our yard to my own knowledge, and there may be more.” 

“Well, some of those places are pretty small, Truman. The Little 
Hideout is the broom closet of the Big Hideout, and I don’t know if we 
should count it as a separate tavern. You have to go into the Sideways 
Club side-ways; the Thinman Club is only nine inches wide from wall to 
wall and it’s quite a trick to bending an elbow there; and the Mouse Room 
is small. But the better clubs are up in our attic, Truman. Did you ever 
count them? The Crazy Man Cabaret is up there, and the After Hours 
Club. Most of the other attic clubs are key clubs and I’m not a member. 
They’ve set up the Skandia Art Theater in our basement now, you know. 
They have continuous performances.” 

“I know it, Jessica, I know it.” 

“Their comedies are so funny that I nearly die. The trouble is that it’s 
so crowded there that you have to laugh in when the one next to you 
laughs out. And I cry just like they do at their tragedies. They’re all about 
women who can’t have any more children. Why don’t we have a bunch 
more, Truman? There’s more than twenty shops in our yard where they 
sell nothing but fertility charms. I wonder why there aren’t any children 
with the Skandia?” 

“Ah, they say that this is just a short first visit by a few of them and 
they didn’t presume to bring their children with them. What is that new 
racket superimposed on the old?” 

“Oh, that’s the big drums and the cymbals. They’re having a political 
campaign to elect temporary officials for the time of their visit here. 
Imperial City, that’s the town in our yard, and our house, will elect 
delegates to go to Congress to represent this whole block; The elections 
will be tonight. Then we’ll really hear some noise, they say. The big drums 
don’t really waste space, Truman. There are people inside them and they 
play them from the inside. Some of our neighbors are getting a little fussy 

about the newcomers, but I always did like a house full of people.” 

“We have it now, Jessica. I never got used to sleeping in a bed with 
nine other people, even if they are quiet sleepers. I like people, and I am 
fond of new experiences. But it is getting crowded.” 

“We have more of the Skandia than anyone else in the block except 
the Skirveys. They say it’s because they like us more than some of the 
others. Mamie Skirvey is taking four kinds of the fertility pills now. She is 
almost sure she will be able to have triplets. I want to too.” 

“All the stores are stripped, Jessica, and all the lumber yards and 
lumber camps; and the grain elevators will be empty in two more days. 
The Skandia pay for everything in money, but nobody knows what it says 
on it I haven’t got used to walking on men and women when I go out, but 
there’s no avoiding it since the ground is covered with them.” 

“They don’t mind. They’re used to it. They say it’s crowded where they 
come from.” 

The Winterfield Times-Tribune Telegraph had a piece about the 

The plain fact is that for two days the Earth has had ten billion visitors 
from Skandia, wherever that is. The plain fact is that the Earth will die of 
them within a week. They appear by invisible transportation, but they 
have shown no inclination to disappear in the same manner. Food will be 
gone, the very air we breathe will be gone. They speak all our languages, 
they are polite, friendly and agreeable. And we will perish from them. 

A big smiling man broke in on Bar-John, who was once again 
president of Big State Amalgamated, former U.S.A. 

“I’m the president of the Skandia Visitation,” he boomed. “We have 
come partly to instruct you people and we find that you do need it. Your 
fertility rate is pathetic. You barely double in fifty years. Your medicine, 
adequate in other fields, is worse than childish in this. We find that some 
of the nostrums peddled to your people actually impede fertility. Well, get 
in the Surgeon General and a few of the boys and we’ll begin to correct 
the situation.” 

“Gedoudahere,” said President Bar-John. 

“I know you will not want your people to miss out on the population 
blessing,” said the Skandia Visitation President. “We can aid you. We 
want you to be as happy as we are.” 

“Jarvis! Cudgelman! Sapsucker!” President Bar-John called out. 

“Shoot down this man. I’ll implement the paper work on it later.” 

“You always say that but you never do,” Sapsucker complained. “It’s 
been getting us in a lot of trouble.” 

“Oh, well, don’t shoot him down then if you’re going to make an issue 
of it. I long for the old days when the simple things were done simply. 
Dammit, you Skandia skinner, do you know that there are nine thousand 
of you in the White House itself?” 

“We intend to improve that this very hour,” the Skandia president 
said. “We can erect one, two, or even three decks in these high-ceilinged 
rooms. I am happy to say that we will have thirty thousand of our people 
quartered in the White House this night.” 

“Do you think I like to take a bath with eight other persons — not even 
registered voters — in the same tub?” President Bar-John complained. 
“Do you think I like to eat off a plate shared by three or four other people? 
Or to shave, by mistake, faces other than my own in the morning?” 

“I don’t see why not,” said the Skandia Visitation president. “People 
are our most precious commodity. Presidents are always chosen as being 
those who most love the people.” 

“Oh, come on, fellows,” said President Bar-John. “Shoot down the 
ever-loving son. We’re entitled to a free one now and then.” 

Jarvis and Cudgelman and Sapsucker blazed away at the Skandia, but 
they harmed him not at all. 

“You should have known that we are immune to that,” the Skandia 
said. “We voted against its effect years ago. Well, since you will not 
cooperate, I will go direct to your people. Happy increase to you, 

Truman Trux, having gone out from his own place for a little change, 
was sitting on a park bench. 

He wasn’t actually sitting on it, but several feet above it. In that 
particular place, a talkative Skandia lady sat on the bench itself. On her 
lap sat a sturdy Skandia man reading the Sporting News and smoking a 
pipe. On him sat a younger Skandia woman. On this younger woman sat 
Truman Trux, and on him sat a dark Skandia girl who was filing her 
fingernails and humming a tune. On her in turn sat an elderly Skandia 
man. As crowded as things had become, one could not expect a seat of 
one’s own. 

A fellow and his girl came along, walking on the people on the grass. 

Mind if we get on?” asked the girl. 

“Quite all right,” said the elderly gentleman on top. “‘Sail right,” said 
the girl working on her nails. “Certainly,” said Truman and the others, 
and the Sporting News man puffed into his pipe that it was perfectly 

There was no longer any motor traffic. People walked closely packed 
on streets and sidewalks. The slow stratum was the lowest, then the 
medium, then the fast (walking on the shoulders of the mediums and 
combining the three speeds). At crossings it became rather intricate, and 
people were sometimes piled nine high. But the Earth people, those who 
still went out, quickly got onto the Skandia techniques. 

An Earthman, known for his extreme views, had mounted onto a 
monument in the park and began to harangue the people, Earth and 
Skandia. Truman Trux, who wanted to see and hear, managed to get a 
nice fifth-level seat, sitting on the shoulders of a nice Skandia girl, who 
sat on the shoulders of another who likewise to the bottom. 

“Ye are the plague of locusts!” howled the Earth-side crank. “Ye have 
stripped us bare!” 

“The poor man!” said the Skandia girl who was Truman’s 
understeady. “He likely has only a few children and is embittered.” 

“Ye have devoured our substance and stolen the very air of our life. Ye 
are the Apocalyptical grasshoppers, the eleventh plague.” 

“Here is a fertility charm for your wife,” said the Skandia girl, and 
reached it up to Truman. “You might not need it yet, but keep it for the 
future. It is for those who have more than twelve. The words in Skandia 
say ‘Why stop now?’ it is very efficacious.” 

“Thank you,” said Truman. “My wife has many charms from you good 
people, but not one like this. We have only one child, a young girl.” 

“What a shame! Here is a charm for your daughter. She cannot begin 
to use them too early.” 

“Destruction, destruction, destruction on ye all!” screamed the Earth- 
side crank from atop the monument. 

“Quite an adept,” said the Skandia girl. “To what school of eloquence 
does he belong?” 

The crowd began to break up and move off. Truman felt himself taken 
down one level and then another. 

“Any particular direction?” asked the Skandia girl. “This is fine,” said 

Truman. “Were going toward my home.” 

“Why, here’s a place almost clear,” said the girl. “You’d never find 
anything like this at home.” They were now down to the last level, the girl 
walking only on the horizontal bodies of those lounging on the grass. 
“You can get off and walk if you wish,” said the girl. “Here’s a gap in the 
walkers you can slip down into. Well, toodle.” 

“You mean toodle-oo?” Truman asked as he slid off her shoulders. 

“That’s right. I can never remember the last part of it.” 

The Skandia were such friendly people! 

President Bar-John and a dozen other regents of the world had 
decided that brusqueness was called for. Due to the intermingling of 
Earth and Skandia populations, this would be a task for small and 
medium arms. The problem would be to gather the Skandia together in 
open spots, but on the designated day they began to gather of themselves 
in a million parks and plazas of the Earth. It worked perfectly. Army units 
were posted everwhere and went into action. 

Rifles began to whistle and machine guns to chatter. But the effect on 
the Skandia was not that expected. 

Instead of falling wounded, they cheered everywhere. 

“Pyrotechnics yet!” exclaimed a Skandia leader, mounting onto the 
monument in one park. “Oh, we are honored!” 

But, though the Skandia did not fall from the gunshot, they had 
began to diminish in their numbers. They were disappearing as 
mysteriously as they had appeared a week before. 

“We go now, said the Skandia leader from the top of the monument. 
“We have enjoyed every minute of our short visit. Do not despair! We will 
not abandon you to your emptiness. Our token force will return home 
and report. In another week we will visit you in substantial numbers. We 
will teach you the full happiness of human proximity, the glory of 
fruitfulness, the blessing of adequate population. We will teach you to fill 
up the horrible empty places of your planet.” 

The Skandia were thinning out. The last of them were taking cheering 
farewells of disconsolate Earth friends. 

“We will be back,” they said as they passed their last fertility charms 
into avid hands. “We’ll be back and teach you everything so you can be as 
happy as we are. Good increase to you!” 

“Good increase to you!” cried the Earth people to the disappearing 

Skandia. Oh, it would be a lonesome world without all those nice people! 
With them you had the feeling that they were really close to you. 

“We’ll be back!” said the Skandia leader, and disappeared from the 
monument. “We’ll be back next week and a lot more of us,” and then they 
were gone. 

“— And next time we’ll bring the kids!” came the last fading Skandia 
voice from the sky. 


There were a lot of funny people in that block. 

“You ever walk down that street?” Art Slick asked Jim Boomer, who 
had just come onto him there. 

“Not since I was a boy. After the overall factory burned down, there 
was a faith healer had his tent pitched there one summer. The street’s just 
one block long and it dead-ends on the railroad embankment Nothing but 
a bunch of shanties and weed-filled lots. The shanties looked different 
today, though, and there seem to be more of them. I thought they pulled 
them all down a few months ago.” 

“Jim, I’ve been watching that first little building for two hours. There 
was a tractor-truck there this morning with a forty-foot trailer, and it 
loaded out of that little shanty. Cartons about eight inches by eight inches 
by three feet came down that chute. They weighed about thirty-five 
pounds each from the way the men handled them. Jim, they filled that 
trailer up with them, and then pulled it off.” 

“What’s wrong with that, Art?” 

“Jim, I said they filled that trailer up. From the drag 

on it it had about a sixty-thousand-pound load when it pulled out. 
They loaded a carton every three and a half seconds for two hours; that’s 
two thousand cartons.” 

“Sure, lots of trailers run over the load limit nowdays; they don’t 
enforce it very well.” 

“Jim, that shack’s no more than a cracker box seven feet on a side. 
Half of it is taken up by a door, and inside a man in a chair behind a small 
table. You couldn’t get anything else in that half. The other half is taken 
up by whatever that chute comes out of. You could pack six of those little 
shacks on that trailer.” 

“Let’s measure it,” Jim Boomer said. “Maybe it’s bigger than it looks.” 
The shack had a sign On it: Make Sell Ship Anything Cut Price. Jim 
Boomer measured the building with an old steel tape. The shack was a 
seven-foot cube, and there were no hidden places. It was set up on a few 
piers of broken bricks, and you could see under it. 

“Sell you a new fifty-foot steel tape for a dollar,” said the man in the 
chair in the little shack. “Throw that old one away.” The man pulled a 
steel tape out of a drawer of his table-desk, though Art Slick was sure it 

had been a plain flat-top table with no place for a drawer. 

“Fully retractable, rhodium-plated, Dort glide, Ramsey swivel, and it 
forms its own caring case. One dollar,” the man said. 

Jim Boomer paid him a dollar for it. “How many of them you got?” 

“I can have a hundred thousand ready to load out in ten minutes,” the 
man said. “Eighty-eight cents each in hundred thousand lots.” 

“Was that a trailer-load of steel tapes you shipped out this morning?” 
Art asked the man. 

“No that must have been something else. This is the first steel tape I 
ever made. Just got the idea when I saw you measuring my shack with 
that old beat-up one.” 

Art Slick and Jim Boomer went to the rundown building next door. It 
was smaller, about a six-foot cube, and the sign said Public Stenographer. 
The clatter of a typewriter was coming from it, but the noise stopped 
when they opened the door. 

A dark pretty girl was sitting in a chair before a small table. There was 
nothing else in the room, and no typewriter. 

“I thought I heard a typewriter in here,” Art said. 

“Oh that is me.” The girl smiled. “Sometimes I amuse myself make 
typewriter noises like a public stenographer is supposed to.” 

“What would you do if someone came in to have some typing done?” 

“What are you think? I do it of course. 

“Could you type a letter for me?” 

“Sure is can, man friend, two bits a page, good work, carbon copy, 
envelope and stamp.” 

“Ah, let’s see how you do it. I will dictate to you while you type.” 

“You dictate first. Then I write. No sense mix up two things at one 

Art dictated a long and involved letter that he had been meaning to 
write for several days. He felt like a fool droning it to the girl as she filed 
her nails. “Why is public stenographer always sit filing her nails?” she 
asked as Art droned. “But I try to do it right, file them and grow them out 
again, then file them down some more. Been doing it all morning. It 
seems silly.” 

“Ah — that is all,” Art said when he had finished dictating. 

“Not P.S. Love and Kisses?” the girl asked. 

“Hardly. It’s a business letter to a person I barely know.” 

“I always say P.S. Love and Kisses to persons I barely know,” the girl 
said. “Your letter will make three pages, six bits. Please you both step 
outside about ten seconds and I write it. Can’t do it when you watch.” She 
pushed them out and closed the door. 

Then there was silence. 

“What are you doing in there, girl?” Art called. 

“Want I sell you a memory course too? You forget already? I type a 
letter,” the girl called. 

“But I don’t hear a typewriter going.” 

“What is? You want verisimilitude too? I should charge extra.” There 
was a giggle, and then the sound of very rapid typing for about five 

The girl opened the door and handed Art the three page letter. It was 
typed perfectly, of course. 

“There is something a little odd about this,” Art said. 

“Oh? The ungrammar of the letter is your own, sir. Should I have 

“No. It is something else. Tell me the truth, girl: how does the man 
next door ship out trailer-loads of material from a building ten times too 
small to hold the stuff?” 

“He cuts prices.” 

“Well, what are you people? The man next door resembles you.” 

“My brother-uncle. We tell everybody we are Innominee Indians.” 

“There is no such tribe,” Jim Boomer said flatly. 

“Is there not? Then we will have to tell people we are something else. 
You got to admit it sounds like Indian. What’s the best Indian to be?” 

“Shawnee,” said Jim Boomer. 

“Okay then we be Shawnee Indians. See how easy it is.” 

“We’re already taken,” Boomer said. “I’m a Shawnee and I know every 
Shawnee in town.” 

“Hi cousin!” the girl cried, and winked. “That’s from a joke I learn, 
only the begin was different. See how foxy I turn all your questions.” 

“I have two-bits coming out of my dollar,” Art said. 

“l know,” the girl said. “I forgot for a minute what design is on the 
back of the two-bitser piece, so I stall while I remember it. Yes, the funny 
bird standing on the bundle of firewood. One moment till I finish it 
Here.” She handed the quarter to Art Slick. “And you tell everybody 

there’s a smoothie public stenographer here who types letters good.” 

“Without a typewriter,” said Art Slick. “Let’s go, Jim.” 

“P.S. Love and kisses,” the girl called after them. 

The Cool Man Club was next door, a small and shabby beer bar. The 
bar girl could have been a sister of the public stenographer. 

“We’d like a couple of Buds, but you don’t seem to have a stock of 
anything,” Art said. 

“Who needs stock?” the girl asked. “Here is beers.” Art would have 
believed that she brought them out of her sleeves, but she had no sleeves. 
The beers were cold and good. 

“Girl, do you know how the fellow on the corner can ship a whole 
trailer-load of material out of a space that wouldn’t hold a tenth of it?” 
Art asked the girl. 

“Sure. He makes it and loads it out at the same time. That way it 
doesn’t take up space, like if he made it before time.” 

“But he has to make it out of something,” Jim Boomer cut in. 

“No, no,” the girl said. “I study your language. I know words. Out of 
something is to assemble, not to make. He makes.” 

“This is funny.” Slick gaped. “Budweiser is misspelled on this bottle, 
the i before the e.” 

“Oh, I goof,” the bar girl said. “I couldn’t remember which way it goes 
so I make it one way on one bottle and the other way on the other. 
Yesterday a man ordered a bottle of Progress beer, and I spelled it 
Progers on the bottle. Sometimes I get things wrong. Here, I fix yours. 

She ran her hand over the label, and then it was spelled correctly. 

“But that thing is engraved and then reproduced,” Slick protested. 

“Oh, sure, all fancy stuff like that,” the girl said. “1 got to be more 
careful. One time I forget and make Jax-taste beer in a Schlitz bottle and 
the man didn’t like it. I had to swish swish change the taste while I 
pretended to give him a different bottle. One time I forgot and produced a 
green-bottle beer in a brown bottle, ‘It is the light in here, it just makes it 
look brown,’ I told the man. Hell, we don’t even have a light in here. I go 
swish fast and make the bottle green. It’s hard to keep rrom making 
mistake when you’re stupid.” 

“No, you don’t have a light or a window in here, and it’s light,” Slick 
said. “You don’t have refrigeration. There are no power lines to any of the 
shanties in this block. How do you keep the beer cold?” 

“Yes, is the beer not nice and cold? Notice how tricky I evade your 
question. Will you good men have two more beers?” 

“Yes, we will. And I’m interested in seeing where you get them,” Slick 

“Oh look, is snakes behind you!” the girl cried. “Oh how you startle 
and jump!” she laughed. “It’s all joke. Do you think I will have snakes in 
my nice bar?” 

But she had produced two more beers, and the place was as bare as 

‘How long have you tumble-bugs been in this block?” Boomer asked. 

“Who keep track?” the girl said. “People come and go.” 

“You’re not from around here,” Slick said. “You’re not from anywhere 
I know. Where do you come from? Jupiter?” 

“Who wants Jupiter?” the girl seemed indignant. “Do business with a 
bunch of insects there, is all! Freeze your tail too.” 

“You wouldn’t be a kidder, would you, girl?” Slick asked. 

“I sure do try hard. I learn a lot of jokes but I tell them all wrong yet. I 
get better, though. I try to be the witty bar girl so people will come back.” 

“what’s in the shanty next door toward the tracks?” 

“My cousin-sister,” said the girl. “She set up shop just today. She grow 
any color hair on bald-headed men. I tell her she’s crazy. No business. If 
they wanted hair they wouldn’t be bald-headed in the first place.” 

“Well, can she grow hair on bald-headed men?” Slick asked. 

“Oh sure. Can’t you?” 

There were three or four more shanty shops in the block. It didn’t 
seem that there had been that many when the men went into the Cool 
Man club. 

“I don’t remember seeing this shack a few minutes ago,” Boomer said 
to the man standing in front of the last shanty on the line. 

“Oh, I just made it,” the man said. 

Weathered boards, rusty nails... and he had just made it. 

“Why didn’t you - ah — make a decent building while you were at it?” 
Slick asked. 

“This is more inconspicuous,” the man said. “Who notices when an 
old building appears suddenly? We’re new here and want to feel our way 
in before we attract attention. Now I’m trying to figure out what to make. 
Do you. think there is a market for a luxury automobile to sell for a 

hundred dollars? I suspect I would have to respect the local religious 
feeling when I make them though.” 

“What is that?” Slick asked. 

“Ancestor worship. The old gas tank and fuel system still carried as 
vestiges after natural power is available. Oh’ well, I’ll put them in. I’ll 
have one done in about three minutes if you want to wait.” 

“No. I’ve already got a car,” Slick said. “Let’s go, Jim.” 

That was the last shanty in the block, so they turned back. 

“I was just wondering what was down in this block where nobody ever 
goes,” Slick said. “There’s a lot of odd corners in our town if you look 
them out.” 

“There are some queer guys in the shanties that were here before this 
bunch,” Boomer said. “Some of them used to come up to the Red Rooster 
to drink. One of them could gobble like a turkey. One of them could roll 
one eye in one direction and the other eye the other way. They shoveled 
hulls at the cottonseed oil float before it burned down.” 

They went by the public stenographer shack again. 

“No kidding, honey, how do you type without a typewriter?” Slick 

“Typewriter is too slow,” the girl said. 

“1 asked how, not why,” Slick said. 

“I know. Is it not nifty the way I turn away a phrase? I think I will have 
a big oak tree growing in front of my shop tomorrow for shade. Either of 
you nice men have an acorn in your pocket?” 

“Ah — no, How do you really do the typing, girl?” 

“You promise you won’t tell anybody.” 

“I promise.” 

“I make the marks with my tongue,” the girl said. They started slowly 
on up the block. 

“Hey, how do you make the carbon copies?” Jim Boomer called back. 

“With my other tongue,” the girl said. 

There was another forty-foot trailer loading out of the first shanty in 
the block. It was bundles of half-inch plumbers’ pipe coming out of the 
chute — in twenty-foot lengths. Twenty-foot rigid pipe out of a seven-foot 

“I wonder how he can sell trailer-loads of such stuff out of a little 
shack like that,” Slick puzzled, still not satisfied. 

“Like the girl says, he cuts prices,” Boomer said. “Let’s go over to the 
Red Rooster and see if there’s anything going on. There always were a lot 
of funny people in that block.” 


I’m Joe Spade — about as intellectual a guy as you’ll find all day. I 
invented Wotto and Voxo and a bunch of other stuff that nobody can get 
along without anymore. It’s on account of I have so much stuff in my 
head that I sometimes go to a head-grifter. This day all of them I know is 
out of town when I call. Lots of times every, body I know is out of town 
when I call. I go to a new one. The glass in his door says he is a 
anapsychologist, which is a head-grifter in the popular speech. 

“I’m Joe Spade the man that got everything,” I tell him and slap him 
on the back in that hearty way of mine. There is a crunch sound and at 
first I think I have crack his rib. Then I see I have only broke his glasses 
so no harm done. “I am what you call a flat-footed genius, Doc,” I tell 
him, “with plenty of the crimp-cut greenleaf.” 

I take the check card away from him and mark it up myself to save 
time. I figure I know more about me than he does. 

“Remember, I can get them nine-dollar words for four eighty-five 
wholesale, Doc,” I josh him and he looks me painful. 

“Modesty isn’t one of your failings,” this head-grifter tell me as he 
scun my card. “Hum. Single... Significant.” 

I had written down the “single” in the blank for it, but he had see for 
himself that I am a significant man. 

“Solvent,” he read for the blank about the pecuniary stuff; “I like that 
in a man. We will arrange for a few sessions.” 

“One will do it,” I tell him. “Time is running and I am paying. Give me 
a quick read, Doc.” 

“Yes, I can give you a very rapid reading,” he says. “I want you to 
ponder the ancient adage: It is not good for Man to be alone. Think about 
it a while, and perhaps you will be able to put one and one together.” 

Then he add kind of sad, “Poor woman!” which is either the non¬ 
secular of the year or else he is thinking of some other patient. Then he 
add again, “That will be three yards, in the lingo.” 

“Thanks, Doc,” I say. I pay the head-grifter his three hundred dollars 
and leave. He has hit the nail on the noggin and put his toe on the root of 
my trouble. 

I will take me a partner in my business. 

I spot him in Grogley’s, and I know right away he’s the one. He’s about 

half my size but otherwise he’s as much like me as two feet in one shoe. 
He’s real good-looking — just like me. He’s dressed sweet, but has a little 
blood on his face like can happen to anyone in Grogley’s for five minutes. 
Man, we’re twins! I know we will talk alike and think alike just like we 
look alike. 

“Eheu! Fugaces!” my new partner says real sad. That means “Brother, 
this has been one day with all the bark on it!” He is drinking the Fancy 
and his eyes look like cracked glass. 

“He’s been having quite a few little fist fights,” Grogley whispers to 
me, “but he don’t win none. He isn’t fast with his hands. I think he’s got 

“Not no more he don’t,” I tell Grogley; “he’s my new partner.” 

I slap my new partner on the back in that hearty way I have, and the 
tooth that flew out must have been a loose one. 

“You don’t have no more troubles, Roscoe,” I tell him, “you and me is 
just become partners.” He looks kind of sick at me. 

.Maurice is the name,” he says, “Maurice Maltravers. How are things 
back in the rocks? You, sir, are a troglodyte. They always come right after 
the snakes. That’s the only time I wish the snakes would come back.” 

Lots of people call me a troglodyte. 

“Denied the sympathy of humankind,” Maurice carries on, “perhaps I 
may find it in an inferior species. I wonder if I could impose on your ears 
— gahhhh!” (he made a humorous sound there) “are those things ears? — 
What a fearsome otological apparatus you do have! — the burden of my 

“I just told you you don’t have none, Maurice,” I say. “Come along 
with me and we’ll get into the partner business.” 

I pick him up by the scruff and haul him out of Grogley’s. 

“I see right away you are my kind of man,” I say. “My kind of man — 
putridus ad volva,” Maurice gives me the echo. Hey, this guy is a gale! 
Just like me. 

“My cogitational patterns are so intricate and identatic oriented,” says 
Maurice when I set him down and let him walk a little, “that I become a 
closed system — unintelligible to the exocosmos and particularly to a 
chthonian like yourself.” 

“I’m mental as hell myself, Maurice,” I tell him, “there ain’t nothing 
the two of us can’t do together.” 

“My immediate difficulty is that the University has denied me further 
use of the computer,” Maurice tells me. “Without it, I cannot complete 
the Ultimate Machine.” 

“I got a computer’ll make that little red schoolhouse turn green,” I tell 

We come to my place which a man have call in print “a converted 
horse barn, probably the most unorthodox and badly appointed scientific 
laboratory in the world.” I take Maurice in with me, but he carries on like 
a chicken with its hat off when he finds out the only calculator I got is the 
one in my head. 

“You livid monster, I can’t work in this mares’-nest,” he screeches at 
me. “I’ve got to have a calculator, a computer.” 

I tap my head with a six-pound hammer and grin my famous grin. 
“It’s all inside here, Maurice boy,” I tell him, “the finest calculator in the 
world. When I was with the carnivals they billed me as the Idiot Genius. I 
run races with the best computers they had in a town, multiplying 
twenty-place numbers and all the little tricks like that. I cheated though. I 
invented a gadget and carried it in my pocket. It’s jam the relays of the 
best computers and slow them down for a full second. Give me a one- 
second hop and I can beat anything in the world at anything. The only 
things wrong with those jobs is that I had to talk and act kind of dumb to 
live up to my billing the idiot Genius, and that dumb stuff was hard on an 
intellectual like I.” 

“I can see that it would be,” Maurice said. “Can you handle involuted 
matrix, Maimonides-conditioned, third-aspect numbers in the Cauchy 
sequence with simultaneous non-temporal involvement of the Fieschi 

“Maurice, I can do it and fry up a bunch of eggs to go with it at the 
same time,” I tell him. Then I look him right in the middle of the eye. 
“Maurice,” I say, “you’re working on a nullifier.” 

He look at me like he take me serious for the first time. He pull a sheaf 
of papers out of his shirt, and sure enough he is working on a nullifier — a 
sweet one. 

“This isn’t an ordinary nullifier,” Maurice points out, and I see that it 
ain’t. “What other nullifier can posit moral and ethical judgments? What 
other can set up and enforce categories? What other can really discern? 
This will be the only nullifier able to make full philosophical 

pronouncements. Can you help me finish it, Proconsul?” 

A proconsul is about the same as an alderman, so I know Maurice 
think high of me. We throw away the clock and get with it. We work about 
twenty hours a day. I compute it and build it at the same time — out of 
Wotto-metal naturally. At the end we use feedback a lot. We let the 
machine decide what we will put in it and what leave out. The main 
difference between our nullifier and all others is that ours will be able to 
make decisions. So, let it make them! 

We finish it in about a week. Man, it is a sweet thing. We play with it a 
while to see what it can do. It can do everything. 

I point it at half a bushel of bolts and nuts I got there. “Get rid of 
everything that ain’t standard thread,” I program it. “Half that stuff is 

And half that stuff is gone right now! This thing works! Just set in 
what you want it to get rid of, and it’s gone without a trace. 

“Get rid of everything here that’s no good for nothing,” I program it. I 
had me a place there that has been described as cluttered. That machine 
blinked once, and then I had a place you could get around in. That thing 
knew junk when it saw it, and it sure sent that no-good stuff clear over 
the edge. Of course anybody can make a nullifier that won’t leave no 
remains of whatever it latches on to, but this is the only one that knows 
what not to leave no remains of by itself. Maurice and me is tickled as 
pink rabbits over the thing. 

“Maurice,” I say, and I slap him on the back so his nose bleeds a little, 
“this is one bushy-tailed gadget. There ain’t nothing we can’t do with it.” 

But Maurice looks kind of sad for a moment. 

“A quo bono?” he ask, which I think is the name of a mineral water, so 
I slosh him out some brandy which is better. He drink the brandy but he’s 
still thoughtful. 

“But what good is it?” he ask. “It is a triumph, of course, but in what 
category could we market it? It seems that I’ve been here a dozen times 
with the perfect apparatus that nobody wants. Is there really a mass 
market for a machine that can posit moral and ethical judgments, that 
can set up and enforce categories, that is able to discern, and to make 
philosophical pronouncements? Have I not racked up one more 
triumphant folly?” 

“Maurice, this thing is a natural-born garbage disposal,” I tell him. He 

turn that green color lots of people do when I shed a big light on them. 

“A garbage disposal!” he sing out. “The aeons labored to give birth to 
it through the finest mind - mine — of the millennium, and this brother of 
a giant ape says it is a garbage disposal! It is a new aspect of thought, the 
novo instauratio, the mind of tomorrow fruited today, and this obscene 
ogre says it is a Garbage Disposal!! The Constellations do homage to it, 
and Time has not waited in vain, and you, you splay-footed horse-herder, 
you call it a GARBAGE DISPOSAL! ” 

Maurice was so carried away with the thought that he cried a little. It 
sure is nice when someone agrees with you as long and loud as Maurice 
did. When he was run out of words he got aholt of the brandy bottle with 
both hands and drunk it all off. Then he slept the clock around. He was 
real tired. 

He looked kind of sheepful when he finally woke up. 

“I feel better now, outside of feeling worse,” he say. “You are right, 
Spade, it’s a garbage disposal.’" 

He programmed it to get all the slush out of his blood and liver and 
kidneys and head. It did it. It cured his hangover in straight-up no time at 
all. It also shaved him and removed his appendix. Just give it the nod and 
it would nullify anything. 

“We will call it the Hog-Belly Honey,” I say, “on account of it will eat 
anything, and it work so sweet.” 

“That is what we will call it privately.” Maurice nodded. “But in 
company it will be known as the Pantophag.” That is the same thing in 

It was at the time of this area of good feeling that I split a Voxo with 
Maurice. Each of you have one-half of a tuned Voxo and you can talk to 
each other anywhere the world, and the thing is so nonconspicuous that 
nobody can see it on you. 

We got a big booth and showed the Hog-Belly Honey, the Pantophag, 
at the Trade Fair. 

Say, we did put on a good show! The people came in and looked and 
listened till they were walleyed. That Maurice could give a good spiel, and 
I’m about the best there is myself. We sure were two fine-looking men, 
after Maurice told me that maybe I detracted a little bit by being in my 
undershirt, and I went and put a shirt on. And that bushy-tailed machine 
just sparkled — like everything does that is made out of Wotto-metal. 

Kids threw candy-bar wrappers at it, and they disappeared in the 
middle of the air. “Frisk me,” they said, and everything in their pockets 
that was no good for nothing was gone. A man held up a stuffed briefcase, 
and it was almost empty in a minute. A few people got mad when they 
lost beards and moustaches, but we explained to them that their boscage 
hadn’t done a thing for them; if the ornaments had had even appearance 
value the machine would have left them be. We pointed out other people 
who kept their brush; whatever they had behind it, they must have 
needed the cover. 

“Could I have one in my house, and when?” a lady asks. 

“Tomorrow, for forty-nine ninety-five installed,” I tell her. “It will get 
rid of anything no good. It’ll pluck chickens, or bone roasts for you. It will 
clear out all those old love letters from that desk and leave just the ones 
from the guy that meant it. It will relieve you of thirty pounds in the 
strategic places, and frankly, lady, this alone will make it worth your 
while. It will get rid of old buttons that don’t match, and seeds that won’t 
sprout. It will destroy everything that is not so good for nothing.” 

“It can posit moral and ethical judgments,” Maurice tells the people. 
“It can set up and enforce categories.” 

“Maurice and me is partners,” I tell them all. “We look alike and think 
alike. We even talk alike.” 

“Save I in the hieratic and he in the demotic,” Maurice say. “This is the 
only nullifier in the world able to make full philosophical 
pronouncements. It is the unfailing judge of what is of some use and what 
is not. And it disposes neatly.” 

Man, the people did pour in to see it all that morning! They slacked off 
a little bit just about noon. 

“I wonder how many people have come into our booth this morning?” 
Maurice wondered to me. “I would guess near ten thousand.” 

“I don’t have to guess,” I say. “There is nine thousand three hundred 
and fifty-eight who have come in, Maurice,” I tell him, for I am always the 
automatic calculator. “There is nine thousand two hundred and ninety- 
seven who have left,” I go on, “and there are forty-four here now.” 

Maurice smiled. “You have made a mistake,” he says. “It doesn’t add 

And that is when the hair riz up on the back of my neck. 

I don’t make mistakes when I calculate, and I can see now that the 

Hog-Belly Honey don’t make none either. Well, it’s too late to make one 
now if you’re not trained for it, but it might not be too late to get out the 
way of the storm before it hits. 

“Crank the cuckoo,” I whisper to Maurice, “make the bindlestiff, hit 
the macadam!” 

“Je ne comprends pas,” says Maurice, which means “Let’s hit the road, 
boys,” in French, so I know my partner understands me. 

I am out of the display hall at a high run, and Maurice racing along 
beside me so lightfoot that he don’t make no noise. There is a sky-taxi just 
taking off. 

“Jump for it, Maurice!” I sing out I jump for it myself, and hook my 
fingers over the rear rail and am dangling in the air. I look to see if 
Maurice make it. Make it! He isn’t even there! He didn’t come out with 
me. I look back, and I see him through a window going to his spiel again. 

Now that is a mule-headed development. My partner, who is as like 
me as two heads in one hat, had not understand me. 

At the port I hook onto a sky-freight just going to Mexico. 

I don’t never have to pack no bag. I say that a man who don’t always 
carry two years’ living in that crimp green stuff in his back pocket ain’t in 
no condition to meet fait. In thirty minutes I am sit down in a hotel in 
Cueva Peoquita and have all the pleasantries at hand. Then I snap on my 
Voxo to hear what Maurice is signaling about. 

“Why didn’t you tell me that the Pantophag was nullifying people?” he 
ask kind of shrill. 

“I did tell you,” I say. “Nine thousand two hundred and ninety-seven 
added to forty-four don’t come to nine thousand three hundred and fifty- 
eight. You said so yourself. How are things on the home front, Maurice? 
That’s a joke.” 

“It’s no joke,” he say kind of fanatic like. “I have locked myself in a 
little broom closet, but they’re going to break down the door. What can I 

“Why, Maurice, just explain to those people that the folks nullified by 
the machine were no good for nothing because the machine don’t make 

“I doubt that I can convince the parents and spouses and children of 
the nullified people of this. They’re after blood. They’re breaking down 
the door now, Spade. I hear them say they will hang me.” 

“Tell them you won’t settle for anything less than a new rope, 
Maurice,” I tell him. That’s an old joke. I switch off the Voxo because 
Maurice is not making anything except gurgling noises which I cannot 

A thing like that blow over real fast after they have already hang one 
guy for it and are satisfied. I am back in town and am rolling all those 
new ideas around in my head, like a bunch of rocks. But I’m not going to 
build the Hog-Belly Honey again. It is too logical for safety, and is a little 
before its time. 

I am looking to get me another partner. Come into Grogley’s if you are 
interested. I show up there every hour or so. I want a guy as like me as 
two necks in one noose — what make me think of a thing like that? — a 
guy look like me and think like me and talk like me. 

Just ask for Joe Spade. 

But the one I hook onto for a new partner will have to be a fellow who 
understands me when the scuppers are down. 


Ceran Swicegood was a promising young Special Aspects Man. But, 
like all Special Aspects, he had one irritating habit. He was forever asking 
the question: How Did it All Begin? 

They all had tough names except Ceran. Manbreaker Crag, Heave 
Huckle, Blast Berg, George Blood, Move Manion (when Move says 
“Move,” you move), Trouble Trent. They were supposed to be tough, and 
they had taken tough names at the naming. Only Ceran kept his own — to 
the disgust of his commander, Manbreaker 

“Nobody can be a hero with a name like Ceran Swicegood!” 
Manbreaker would thunder. “Why don’t you take Storm Shannon? That’s 
good. Or Gutboy Barrelhouse or Slash Slagle or Nevel knife? You barely 
glanced at the suggested list.” 

“I’ll keep my own,” Ceran always said, and that is where he made his 
mistake. A new name will sometimes bring out a new personality. It had 
done so for George Blood. Though the hair on George’s chest was a graft 
job, yet that and his new name had turned him from a boy into a man. 
Had Ceran assumed the heroic name of Gutboy Barreihouse he might 
have been capable of rousing endeavors and man-sized angers rather 
than his tittering indecisions and flouncy firues. 

They were down on the big asteroid Proavitus — a sphere that almost 
tinkled with the potential profit that might be shaken out of it. And the 
tough men of the Expedition knew their business. They signed big 
contracts on the native velvet-like bark scrolls and on their own parallel 
tapes. They impress, inveigled and somewhat cowed the slight people of 
Proavitus. Here was a solid two-way market, enough to make them slaver. 
And there was a whole world of oddities that could lend themselves to the 
luxury trade. 

“Everybody’s hit it big but you,” Manbreaker crackled in kindly 
thunder to Ceran after three days there. “But even Special Aspects is 
supposed to pay its way. Our charter compels us to carry one of your sort 
to give a cultural twist to the thing, but it needn’t be restricted to that. 
What we go out for every time, Ceran, is to cut a big fat hog in the rump 
— we make no secret of that, But if the hog’s tail can be shown to have a 
cultural twist to it, that will solve a requirement. And if that twist in the 
tail can turn us a profit, then we become mighty happy about the whole 

thing. Have you been able to find out anything about the living dolls, for 
instance? They might have both a cultural aspect and a market value.” 

“The living dolls seem a part of something much deeper,” Ceran said. 
“There’s a whole complex of things to be unraveled. The key may be the 
statement of the Proavitoi that they do not die.” 

“I think they die pretty young, Ceran. All those out and about are 
young, and those I have met who do not leave their houses are only 
middling old.” 

Then where are their cemeteries?” 

“Likely they cremate the old folks when they die.” 

“Where are the crematories?” 

“They might just toss the ashes out or vaporize the entire remains. 
Probably they have no reverence for ancestors.” 

“Other evidence shows their entire culture to be based on an 
exaggerated reverence for ancestors.” 

“You find out, Ceran. You’re Special Aspects Man.” 

Ceran talked to Nokoma, his Proavitoi counterpart as translator. Both 
were expert, and they could meet each halfway in talk. Nokoma was likely 
feminine, There was a certain softness about both the sexes of the 
Proavitoi, but the men of the Expedition believed that they had them 
straight now. 

“Do you mind if I ask some straight questions?” Ceran greeted her 

“Sure is not. How else I learn the talk well but by talking?” 

“Some of the Proavitoi say that they do not die, Nokoma. Is this true?” 

“How is not be true? If they die, they not he here to say they do not 
die. Oh, I joke, I joke. No, we do not die. It is a foolish alien custom which 
we see no reason to imitate. On Proavitus, only the low creatures die.” 

“None of you does?” 

“Why, no. Why should one want to be an exception in this?” 

“But what do you do when you get very old?” 

“We do less and less then. We come to a deficiency of energy. Is it not 
the same with you?” 

“Of course. But where do you go when you become exceedingly old?” 

“Nowhere. We stay at home then. Travel is for the young and those of 
the active years.” 

“Let’s try it from the other end,” Ceran said. “Where are your father 
and mother, Nokoma?” 

“Out and about. They aren’t really old.” 

“And your grandfathers and grandmothers?” 

“A few of them still get out. The older ones stay home.” 

“Let’s try it this way. How many grandmothers do you have, 

“I think I have nine hundred grandmothers in my house. Oh, I know 
that isn’t many, but we are the young branch of a family. Some of our clan 
have very great numbers of ancestors in their houses.” 

“And all these ancestors are alive?” 

“What else? Who would keep things not alive? How would such be 

Ceran began to hop around in his excitement. 

“Could I see them?” he twittered. 

“It might not be wise for you to see the older of them,” Nokoma 
cautioned, “It could be an unsettling thing for strangers, and we guard it. 
A few tens of them you can see, of course.” 

Then it came to Ceran that he might be onto what he had looked for 
all his life. He went into a panic of expectation. 

“Nokoma, it would be finding the key!” he fluted. “If none of you has 
ever died, then your entire race would still be alive!” 

“Sure. Is like you count fruit. You take none away, you still have them 

“But if the first of them are still alive, then they might know their 
origin! They would know how it began! Do they? Do you?” 

“Oh, not 1.1 am too young for the Ritual.” 

“But who knows? Doesn’t someone know?” 

“Oh, yes, All the old ones know how it began.” 

“How old? How many generations back from you till they know?” 

“Ten, no more. When I have ten generations of children, then I will 
also go to the Ritual.” 

“The Ritual. What is it?” 

“Once a year, the old people go to the very old people. They wake them 
up and ask them how it all began. The very old people tell them the 
beginning. It is a high time. Oh, how they bottle and laugh! Then the very 
old people go back to sleep for another year. So it is passed down to the 

generations. That is the Ritual.” 

The Proavitoi were not humanoid. Still less were they “monkey-faces,” 
though that name was now set in the explorers’ lingo. They were upright 
and robed, and swathed, and were assumed to be two-legged under their 
garments. Though, as Manbreaker said, “They might go on wheels, for all 
we know.” 

They had remarkable flowing hands that might be called everywhere- 
digited. They could handle tools, or employ their hands as if they were the 
most intricate tools. 

George Blood was of the opinion that the Proavitoi were always 
masked, and that the men of the Expedition had never seen their faces. 
He said that those apparent faces were ritual masks, and that no part of 
the Proavitoi had ever been seen by the men except for those remarkable 
hands, which perhaps were their real faces. 

The men reacted with cruel hilarity when Ceran tried to explain to 
them just what a great discovery he was verging on. 

“Little Ceran is still on the how-did-it-begin jag,” Man-breaker Jeered. 
“Ceran, will you never give off asking which came first, the chicken or the 


“I will have that answer very soon,” Ceran sang. “I have the unique 
opportunity. When I find how the Proavitoi began, I may have the clue to 
how everything began. All of the Proavitoi are still alive, the very first 
generation of them.” 

“It passes belief that you can be so simpleminded,” Manbreaker 
moaned. “They say that one has finally mellowed ‘when he can suffer 
fools gracefully. By God, I hope I never come to that.” 

But two days later, it was Manbreaker who sought out Ceran 
Swicegood on nearly the same subject. Manbreaker had been doing a 
little thinking and discovering of his own. 

“You are Special Aspects Man, Ceran,” he said, “and you have been 
running off after the wrong aspect.” 

“What is that?” 

“It don’t make a damn how it began. What is important is that it may 
not have to end.” 

“It is the beginning that I intend to discover,” said Ceran. 

“You fool, can’t you understand anything? What do the Proavitoi 
possess so uniquely that we don’t know whether they have it by science or 

by fool luck?” 

“Ah, their chemistry, I suppose.” 

“Sure. Organic chemistry has come of age here. The Proavitoi have 
every kind of nexus and inhibitor and stimulant. They can grow and 
shrink and telescope and prolong what they will. These creatures seem 
stupid to me; it is as if they had these things by instinct. But they have 
them, that is what is important. With these things, we can become the 
patent medicine kings of the universes, for the Proavitoi do not travel or 
make many outside contacts. These things can do anything or undo 
anything. I suspect that the Proavitoi can shrink cells, and I suspect that 
they can do something else.” 

“No, they couldn’t shrink cells. It is you who nonsense now, 

“Never mind. Their things already make nonsense of conventional 
chemistry. With the pharmacopoeia that one could pick up here, a man 
need never die, That’s the stick horse you’ve been riding, isn’t it? But 
you’ve been riding it backward with your head to the tail. The say that 
they never die.” 

“They seem pretty sure that they don’t. If they did, they would be the 
first to know it, as Nokoma says.” 

“What? Have these creatures humor?” 


“But, Ceran, you don’t understand how big this is.” 

“I’m the only one who understands it so far. It means that if the 
Proavitoi have always been immortal, as they maintain, then the oldest of 
them are still alive. From them I may be able to learn how their species — 
and perhaps every species — began.” 

Manbreaker went into his dying buffalo act then. He tore his hair and 
nearly pulled out his ears by the roots. He stomped and pawed and went 
off bull-bellowing: “It don’t make a damn how it began, you fool! It might 
not have to end!” so loud that the hills echoed back: 

“It don’t make a damn — you fool.” 

Ceran Swicegood went to the house of Nokoma, but not with her on 
her invitation. He went without het when he knew that she was away 
from home. It was a sneaky thing to do, but the men of the Expedition 
were trained in sneakery. 

He would find out better without a mentor about the nine hundred 

grandmothers, about the rumored living dolls. He would find out what 
the old people did do if they didn’t die, and find if they knew how they 
were first born. For his intrusion, he counted on the innate politeness of 
the Proavitoi. 

The house of Nokoma, of all the people, was in the cluster on top of 
the large flat hill, the Acropolis of Proavitus. They were earthen houses, 
though finely done, and they had the appearance of growing out of and be 
a part of the hill itself. 

Ceran went up the winding, ascending flagstone paths, and entered 
the house which Nokoma had once pointed out to him. He entered 
furtively, and encountered one of the nine hundred grandmothers — one 
with whom nobody need be furtive. 

The grandmother was seated and small and smiling at him. They 
talked without real difficulty, though it was not as easy as with Nokoma, 
who could meet Ceran halfway in his own language. At her call, there 
came a grandfather who likewise smiled at Ceran. These two ancients 
were somewhat smaller than the Proavitoi of active years. They were kind 
and serene. There was an atmosphere about the scene that barely missed 
being an odor-not unpleasant, sleepy, reminiscent of something, almost 

“Are there those here older than you?” Ceran asked earnestly. 

“So many, so many! Who could know how many?” said the 
grandmother. She called in other grandmothers, and grandfathers older 
and smaller than herself, these no more than half the size of the active 
Proavitoi — small, sleepy, smiling. 

Ceran knew now that the Proavitoi were not masked. The older they 
were, the more character and interest there was in their faces. It was only 
of the immature active of the Proavitoi that there could have been a 
doubt. No masks could show such calm and smiling old age as this. The 
queer textured stuff was their real faces. 

So old and friendly, so weak and sleepy, there must have been a dozen 
generations of them there back to the oldest and smallest. 

“How old are the oldest?” Ceran asked the first grandmother. 

“We say that all are the same age since all are perpetual,” the 
grandmother told him. “It is not true that all are the same age, but it is 
indelicate to ask how old.” 

“You do not know what a lobster is,” Ceran said to them, trembling, 

“but it is a creature that will boil happily, if the water on him is heated 
slowly. He takes no alarm, for he does not know at what point the heat is 
dangerous. It is that gradual here with me. I slide from one degree to 
another with you and my credulity is not alarmed. I am in danger of 
believing anything about you if it comes in small doses, and it will. I 
believe that you are here and as you are for no other reason than that I 
see and touch you. Well, I’ll be boiled for a lobster, then, before I turn 
back from it. Are there those here even older than the ones present?” 

The first grandmother motioned Ceran to follow her. They went down 
a ramp through the floor into the older part of the house, which must 
have been under ground. 

Living dolls! They were here in rows on the shelves, and sitting in 
small chairs in their niches. Doll-sized indeed, and several hundred of 

Many had wakened at the intrusion. Others came awake when spoken 
to or touched. They were incredibly ancient, but they were cognizant in 
their glances and recognition. They smiled and stretched sleepily, not as 
humans would, but as very old puppies might. Ceran spoke to them, and 
they understood each other surprisingly. 

Lobster, lobster, said Ceran to himself, the water has passed the 
danger point! And it hardly feels different. If you believe your senses in 
this, then you will be boiled alive in your credulity. 

He knew now that the living dolls were real and that they were the 
living ancestors of the Proavitoi. 

Many of the little creatures began to fall asleep again. Their waking 
moments were short, but their sleeps seemed to be likewise. Several of 
the living mummies woke a second time while Ceran was still in the 
room, woke refreshed from very short sleeps and were anxious to talk 

“You are incredible!” Ceran cried out, and all the small and smaller 
and still smaller creatures smiled and laughed their assent. Of course they 
were, All good creatures everywhere are incredible, and were there ever 
so many assembled in one place? But Ceran was greedy. A roomful of 
miracles wasn’t enough. 

“I have to take this back as far as it will go!” he cried avidly. “Where 
are the even older ones?” 

“There are older ones and yet older and again older,” said the first 

grandmother, “and thrice-over older ones, but perhaps it would be wise 
not to seek to be too wise. You have seen enough. The old people are 
sleepy. Let us go up again.” 

Go up again, out of this? Ceran would not, He saw passages and 
descending ramps, down into the heart of the great hill itself. There were 
whole worlds of rooms about him and under his feet. Ceran went on and 
down, and who was to stop him? Not dolls and creatures much smaller 
than dolls. 

Manbreaker had once called himself an old pirate who reveled in the 
stream of his riches. But Ceran was the Young Alchemist who was about 
to find the Stone itself. 

He walked down the ramps through centuries and millennia. The 
atmosphere he had noticed on the upper levels was a clear odor now — 
sleepy, half-remembered, smiling, sad and quite strong. That is the way 
Time smells. 

“Are there those here even older than you?” Ceran asked a small 
grandmother whom he held in the palm of his hand. 

“So old and so small that I could hold in my hand,” said the 
grandmother in what Ceran knew from Nokoma to be the older 
uncompounded form of the Proavitus language. 

Smaller and older the creatures had been getting as Ceran went 
through the rooms. He was boiled lobster now for sure. He had to believe 
it all: he saw and felt it. The wren-sized grandmother talked and laughed 
and nodded that there were those far older than herself, and in doing so 
she nodded herself back to sleep. Ceran returned her to her niche in the 
hive-like wall where there were thousands of others, miniaturized 

Of course he was not in the house of Nokoma now. He was in the 
heart of the hill that underlay all the houses of Proavitus, and these were 
the ancestors of everbody on the asteroid. 

“Are there those here even older than you?” Ceran asked a small 
grandmother whom he held on the tip of his finger. 

“Older and smaller,” she said, “but you come near the end.” 

She was asleep, and he put her back in her place. The older they were, 
the more they slept. 

He was down to solid rock under the roots of the hill. He was into the 
passages that were cut out of that solid rock, but they could not be many 

or deep. He had a sudden fear that the creatures would become so small 
that he could not see them or talk to them, and so he would miss the 
secret of the beginning. 

But had not Nokoma said that all the old people knew the secret? Of 
course. But he wanted to hear it from the oldest of them. He would have it 
now, one way or the other. 

“Who is the oldest? Is this the end of it? Is this the beginning? Wake 
Up! Wake up!” he called when he was sure he was in the lowest and 
oldest room. 

“Is it Ritual?” asked some who woke up. Smaller than mice they were, 
no bigger than bees, maybe older than both. 

“It is a special Ritual,” Ceran told them. “Relate to me how it was in 
the beginning.” 

What was that sound — too slight, too scattered to be a noise? It was 
like a billion microbes laughing. It was the hilarity of little things waking 
up to a high time. 

“Who is the oldest of all?” Ceran demanded, for their laughter 
bothered him. “Who is the oldest and first?” 

“I am the oldest, the ultimate grandmother,” one said gaily. “All the 
others are my children. Are you also of my children?” 

“Of course,” said Ceran, and the small laughter of unbelief flittered 
out from the whole multitude of them. 

“Then you must be the ultimate child, for you are like no other. If you 
be, then it is as funny at the end as it was in the beginning.” 

“How was it in the beginning?” Ceran bleated. “You are the first. Do 
you know how you came to be?” 

“Oh, yes, yes,” laughed the ultimate grandmother, and the hilarity of 
the small things became a real noise now. 

“How did it begin?” demanded Ceran, and he was hopping and 
skipping about in his excitement. 

“Oh, it was so funny a joke the way things began that you would not 
believe it,” chittered the grandmother. “A joke, a joke!” 

“Tell me the joke, then. If a joke generated your species, then tell me 
that cosmic joke.” 

“Tell yourself,” tinkled the grandmother. “You are a part of the joke if 
you are of my children. Oh, it is too funny to believe. How good to wake 
up and laugh and go to sleep again.” 

Blazing green frustration! To be so close and to be balked by a giggling 

“Don’t go to sleep again! Tell me at once how it began!” Ceran shrilled, 
and he had the ultimate grandmother between thumb and finger. 

“This is not Ritual,” the grandmother protested. “Ritual is that you 
guess what it was for three days, and we laugh and say ‘No, no, no, it was 
something nine times as wild as that. Guess some more.’“ 

“I will not guess for three days! Tell me at once or I will crush you,” 
Ceran threatened in a quivering voice. 

“I look at you, you look at me, I wonder if you will do it.” the ultimate 
grandmother said calmly. 

Any of the tough men of the Expedition would have done it — would 
have crushed her, arid then another and another and another of the 
creatures till the secret was told. If Ceran had taken on a tough 
personality and a tough name he’d have done it. If he’d been Gutboy 
Barrelhouse he’d have done it without a qualm. But Ceran Swicegood 
couldn’t do it. 

“Tell me,” he pleaded in agony. “All my life I’ve tried to find out how it 
began, how anything began. And you know!” 

“We know. Oh, it was so funny how it began. So joke! So fool, so 
clown, so grotesque thing! Nobody could guess, nobody could believe.” 

“Tell me! Tell me!” Ceran was ashen and hysterical. “No, no, you are 
no child of mine,” chortled the ultimate grandmother. “Is too joke a joke 
to tell a stranger. We could not insult a stranger to tell so funny, so 
unbelieve. Strangers can die. Shall I have it on conscience that a stranger 
died laughing?” 

“Tell me! Insult me! Let me die laughing!” But Ceran nearly died 
crying from the frustration that ate him up as a million bee-sized things 
laughed and hooted and giggled: 

“Oh, it was so funny the way it began!” 

And they laughed. And laughed. And went on laughing... until Ceran 
Swicegood wept and laughed together, and crept away, and returned to 
the ship still laughing. On his next voyage he changed his name to Blaze 
Bolt and ruled for ninety-seven days as king of sweet sea island in M- 81 , 
but that is another and much more unpleasant story. 


The man who entered, though quiet and soft-stepping, was none of 
your tame animals. He’d kill for the one thing he wanted and couldn’t get 
enough of; but he hardly knew what to do with the packet of it he had 
under his arm. The man had a slight green tinge to him, and Patrick T. K. 
guessed that what he carried would have it also. 

In an earlier era the man would have been tagged immediately as a 
seaman. Plainly he was still that, but of a more ethereal sea. Under his 
arm he had a package wrapped in newspaper, and more sturdily wrapped 
beneath. It was not a large package, but it was quite heavy. 

The faring man was slim but amazingly wiry. Patrick T. K. was fat but 
with a lean and hungry eye that couldn’t be fooled. Patrick set the weight 
of the package carried by the man at a hundred and twenty pounds. 

If it were iron of such bulk it would weigh hardly a third that. If it 
were lead it would not be that heavy. Patrick studied the tendons on the 
side of the man’s neck and the bulging veins on the back of his hand. He 
studied the set of his feet as he stood there, and he calculated the man’s 
center of gravity, package included. Mercury would not be that heavy. 
Platinum would be heavier by a tenth. Patrick T. K. sometimes made 
mistakes in his judgment, but he never made mistakes by as much as ten 

So the seaman had a lump of gold to sell him. Nothing unusual about 
that. Patrick T. K. bought more sly gold than anyone in town. 

“I’ve been told,” said the seaman, “and it doesn’t matter by whom, 
that you might be able to give me good cash for what I have here. But I 
won’t be beaten down. I know my price.” 

And I know mine,” said Paddy T. K. “Twenty thousand. How do you 
want it? Well, come, come, how? Twenties, fifties, hundreds, thousands 
or a king’s mixture?” 

“I had priced it a little higher,” said the man. “What? For that 
undersized loaf of bread under your arm? Two hundred dollars a pound 
for a hundred pounds is as close as I can figure.” 

“It weighs more.” 

“I know what it weighs. But I like to use round figures.” “Shall I 
unwrap it here? Have you a place to test it?” “Leave it wrapped. Here is 
the sum And if you find it short a bill or two, be assured it is a dishonest 


“There is more where this comes from.” 

“I can take this much every two weeks. Now be off.” “You’re not going 
to look at it? How can you be sure what it is?” 

“I have X-ray eyes.” 


But when Paddy T. K. was alone he put other things away and locked 
the door. He took the package to a back room, puffing heavily, for it was 
just as heavy as he knew it must be. He unwrapped it. 

There was little that Patrick did not know about gold. He knew the 
greenishness of African gold, whether of the Gold Coast or the South; the 
greasiness of Kolyma gold and also its extreme unavailability; the cupric 
tinge of Sierra Madre gold whether from the Guatemala or Mexico 
district. He was familiar with the sudden brightness of Milne Bay gold, 
with the granularity of the Canadian, the musclelike texture of that of 
Witwatersrand, the lightness of color of the gold of California and nearby 
Sonora, and the white gold (almost electrum) of New Guinea above Milne 

This was none of them. It was raw but fine, and very, very slightly 
cupric. The green tint in it was about the same as that in the complexion 
of the man. Patrick set down the weight in a notebook. And at the column 
for the origin he did not hesitate. He wrote down “Extraterrestrial.” 

That was the first written note of the thing. 

Later, this gold would be known as St. Simeon gold (from a station 
on its route, not from its origin), but Patrick T. K., the old jewelry factor 
and sly gold dealer, was not fooled. 

Within a month, the Wall Street Journal had also referred to the new 
gold as extraterrestrial. The boys on that sheet also knew about gold, 
wherever they got their knowledge. But the Journal was derided for its 
correct guess. Gold cargo had never been authorized. No such gold had 
been mined except for pilot digs in conjunction with other operations. 
The cost would have been prohibitive, considering the cargo of necessary 
production machinery and the rudimentary state of exploration and the 
rarity of any solid finds. Off-Earth gold was still a generation away. 

It was a four-man corporation made up of: Robert Fountain, an 
unobstructed genius; George Grinder, a ruthless ruffian; Carlos Trevino, 
the last of the Conquistadores and perhaps the first of a new kind of man; 

and Arpad Szild, a murderous Irishman who used a dead man’s papers 
and a dead man’s name. 

Three of them had been dining in quiet luxury one evening at 
Trevino’s when Szild appeared in the midst of them, “the doors and 
windows being closed,” as Fountain related it with his biting humor, but 
that part of it may not be true. 

“I’ve been there. I can take you to it,” Szild said suddenly. He sat down 
and began to eat with his hands from the bowls. 

“I grind up better stuff than you for feed supplement for my cattle,” 
Trevino said. “Who are you? What can you take us to?” 

“To the Trabant. You were talking about the legend.” 

All right. You talk about the legend, real fast,” Robert Fountain said. 
“You haven’t much time.” He laid a hog-nosed gun in front of him on the 

“It’s shaped like a balk or a beam,” Szild said. “Its greater diameter is 
twenty-five hundred meters, and its lesser is fifteen hundred — a little 
less than two cubic miles. It’s a misshapen tapered beam or egg with a 
cleft at its minor end. Its rotation is a tumble, and the period of the 
tumble is just short of thirty minutes. It’s as bad-natured a rock as can be 
found. Cuts you to pieces. Shouldn’t have an atmosphere, but there’s 
something that tears up your lungs no matter how you’re suited. It’s an 
angry place, I tell you. But it’s gold.” 

That was the Golden Trabant, one of the smaller of the eighteen 
hundred significant asteroids orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. When 
finally charted several years after this, it would be given the noxious 
name Venenatus — but that was after it had been treated and its nature 

“We have a nice sketchy catalog of every asteroid down to about that 
size,” said Grinder. “Nobody knows much about their details, but they are 
numbered and given their relative positions and speeds in the asteroid 
stream. Can you tell us which it is?” 

“Can. Won’t,” said Szild. “But I’ll take you there.” 

Szild had known that he would have to play his ace on the first round. 
After he had taken them to it, they would have no reason to keep him 
alive: but he had gambled his life before. 

He said he had been there and knew where it was. The odds were high 
enough for them to take a chance on believing him. They acquired a ship 

and mounted a flight. 

The ship was old and had been deactivated. Carlos Trevino bought it 
at surplus and had it towed down by tug and beached at a remote spot on 
the holdings of the Trevino family. It was activated by the genius of 
Fountain and the driving energy of Grinder. They took twelve young 
Hispanic technicians, none of whom are alive to give their versions. They 
hadn’t known what they would run into nor what the labor would be at 
breaking up and loading the cargo. They went up, and they loaded the 

They came back, the four of them without the twelve young 
technicians. Their first cargo. A trip of only five weeks. The Trabant was 
not distant. 

Szild showed an exceptional talent at remaining alive. It is hard to kill 
a man as tough and canny as he, one who is never off guard. He spent the 
two weeks of the return barricaded in a little compartment, and the three 
leaders had to postpone Szild’s killing till their earthing. Szild knew that 
they had mostly delegated such jobs as that. He himself had had to kill 
the twelve young technicians for them. 

He bulled his way out when they were busy with earthfall and secure 

“He can’t get away,” Trevino said. 

He couldn’t get clear of the surrounding jungle; he did. Trevino who 
knew his own land minutely could track Szild down; he couldn’t. He 
couldn’t take much with him; he took a hundred and twenty pounds of it. 
That wasn’t much out of a cargo like theirs, and whatever story Szild 
might tell would not be believed. He had no reason to tell any story at all; 
he didn’t. 

But somehow he reached port and took passage to the North, for Szild 
was the man who sold that first lump of gold to Patrick T. K. 

Another man would have been satisfied with that and steered clear of 
them. Not Szild. Nevertheless, they were surprised when he returned to 
them just at second take off time, as they were going now with a ship that 
was really a ship. He came on foot across the savanna from the inland 

“‘Something like this happens every time I leave the house for a 
minute,’ as the woman said as she examined the mandible and two 
parietal bones of her newly eaten child,” Szild greeted them. “Would you 

be going without me? The news I had of you was sketchy and I am barely 
here in time.” 

“Kill him!” said Robert Fountain. 

“Kill him, Fountain says, and the other two look at each other. Was it 
not better, Fountain, to have a man who will kill when you say kill, and 
avoid these awkward pauses? But I kill hard, Fountain. I go as long as 
anybody goes, and afterwards.” 

Szild went with them. They would kill him after the hard work of 
loading was done. They would kill him after he had done his turn at the 
instruments out and back. By and by they would kill him. 

They brought back two hundred tons on that second voyage. They 
made a third voyage and a fourth and a fifth. 

The establishment of the Commonwealth of San Simeon did not shake 
the world. Not at first. Nobody had ever heard of the place. It seemed a 
prank. Possibly a name given to a rebel hold. 

Yet the Commonwealth was recognized that first day by its two 
adjacent Central American neighbors. They constituted themselves 
coprotectors of the new country. One of them, indeed, had ceded the land 
for it, the ancient and run-down rancho of the Trevino family. Some 
consideration had surely been paid for this protection. 

It was soon after this that the heavy San Simeon Duros (fifty dollar 
gold pieces) began to appear around the world. 

The appearance of these Duros caused a nervousness all out of 
proportion to the number of them. It is possible that not more than 
twenty million of them (that is, a billion dollars’ worth) went into 
circulation that first year. That is a large amount coming from a new 
small country, but it shouldn’t be enough to unhinge the world. Yet it did 
almost that. 

Gold had gotten out of the habit of showing itself in society. For years 
it had sat at home in vaults, and a multiplier had been used to equate it 
with credit money. Nobody knew what to make of naked gold returning to 
the market. And what if this stream should be but the beginning of a 
veritable river? 

And the stream was spreading. Three Central American countries 
were on a gold spree. It was slopping over into others. 

The mystery of San Simeon was not solved. The exact location of the 
country was unknown to the world at large. Its form of government was 

not to be ascertained. Its statistics softened and disappeared when 
examined. It had a president, Fuentes. It had a prime minister, Moliner 
— the miller, the grinder. It had a foreign minister, Trevino. It had the 
hardest currency in the world. Its national game was playing hob with the 
currencies of the rest of the world. 

If one small shrew is put into a warren of mice or rats, it causes panic. 
The shrew is smaller than any of them and it may be one against 
hundreds. But it will eat them; it will eat them alive. And given time, it 
will eat them all. 

Something like this happened to the green money, the white money, 
the rainbow-colored money of the world. Token shrivels before the thing 
itself. It could not stand up to free and growing gold. 

But if the warren is big enough, the shrew can be contained. There will 
be some of the rats knowing and political enough to go out and hire 
shrews of their own. The source of the gold stream could not be hidden 

One thing (Szild always said it was a mistake and Robert Fountain 
agreed that it was, but they couldn’t hold the other two in line) was that 
the first ships begat others. Trevino and Grinder Molinero became too 
hasty in their greed. In that second year they had twelve ships in the 
service instead of one. That meant that somewhere between fifty and a 
hundred men knew the source. 

The shores began to cave. The golden stream was a river. It crested to 
a torrent. One ship defected, then another. They came back to Earth in 
other lands than those of their departure. And wherever they came down 
they spawned other ships. 

A dozen other countries were in the race by the third year. Now there 
was privateering and open piracy. The ships became battle boats, death 
spheres, and the attrition was terrifying. But the inward flood of the 
metal continued. 

The world importation by the fourth year had risen to five hundred 
billion dollars annually, if it could any longer be equated in dollars. The 
gold dollar itself was not as hard as it had been. 

The Trabant had changed. The period of its tumble was now only 
twenty-three minutes. The egg had been cracked and gutted in many 
places, and the cleft at the minor end had become a chasm between two 
horns. There was a project to shear off one of the horns and tow it to 

Earth in hunks of a million cubic yards each. This would be a lot of gold. 

It was time for oblique measures, and they were found. The effect of 
the gold on the world had not really been bad. The effect on most people 
had been marvelous. But there was a small group that had always borne 
the burden of currency decisions. They were made nervous by this 
unbridled activity. Their hold was slipping. They took measures. 

A small commission of not overly intelligent men found an answer. 
In their own field they understood cause and effect. They acted on 
doubtful authority, and they were not of one mind about the action. But 
they did it. 

They killed Trabant. 

One treatment was enough for the little rock. It couldn’t be cleansed; 
it couldn’t be unpoisoned after that. It would be deadly for a thousand 
years. Then they gave it its first official name, Venenatus, the poison 
asteroid. A near approach would radiate the flesh off a man’s bones. 

Things came back to normal in about three years. The shrews had 
killed each other, and the wise rats once more ran the warren. The new 
fortunes tottered and fell back into the bags of the old. 

Somewhere, we never did know its exact location, San Simeon (no 
longer able to pay the high price for protection) lost its independence and 
became again a run-down rancho. 

Gold stuck to some fingers longer than to others. Fuentes and Grinder 
will never run out of it. Trevino was choked to death by the political 
strings on his. He died along with his small country, and he hadn’t 
intended to. 

Szild didn’t know what he did with all his money. He paid little 
attention to it, and he suspected that he hadn’t received nearly as much of 
it as had his nervous partners. 

He spent it manfully. He threw it away. It gave him a dour pleasure to 
go from billionaire to bum. Then Arpad Szild was down to his last San 
Simeon Duro. 

He laughed. Something had been missing from his life. Now it might 
be back. His gold was gone. So what to do? 

He went up for some more. 

Up to Venenatus the poison asteroid that would radiate a man’s flesh 

Sure. Szild didn’t believe a lot of that stuff. 

Patrick T. K. was alone in his shop when there entered a hooded man 
with a small heavy package. 

“I was beginning to think I would see you no more,” said Patrick. “I 
was told that that traffic had ended. I should have known better. I believe 
you are the same man, my first supplier of it, though I cannot see your 

“I have none,” said the hooded man. “How much for this?” 

“Oh, ten dollars.” 

“A pound?” 

“No. The lot. I figure about eight cents a pound. That’s as high as I can 
go on contaminated gold. Oh sure, I can clean it. It’s only the smart men 
who say it can’t be done. It will even leave a handy profit for myself, 
though not for you. Gold’s about done for.” 

“That isn’t much. I have more of the stuff, a fair small load.” 

“I can take about this much a week. Can you live on ten dollars a 

“Yes. I don’t eat any longer — no stomach. I don’t sleep. I just keep 
moving. I can live on that.” 

“And when your fair small load is gone?” 

“I go up for another.” 

“They say nobody goes there and returns.” 

“I do. But it isn’t crowded there now.” 

“I’ve a feeling that comes to me rarely. I’d like to help you. Are you 

“I believe so. I have pooled what is left of each of my senses, and 
somehow it serves. I need no help. I’m the only happy man in the world, 
the one who found the pot of gold. They can’t take that from me. I’ll go 
get it forever.” 

“After you’re dead?” 

“Oh, yes. I’ve known space ghosts. Now I’ll be one. It isn’t any one line 
you cross. I live in delirium, of course. It doesn’t blunt pain, but it does 
change the viewpoint. On my last trip down, after I knew that I was 
already dead, that both I and the gold were ghosts, it was easier. Oh, 
those are long nights in purgatory I tell you, but I’m not irrevocably 
damned. There’s still the gold, you see.” 

“You’re a happier man than I am. So pass it over.” 

“Here it is.” 

But when Szild passed the heavy small package to Patrick, he did it 
with a hand that was stark splintered hones with only a little black flesh 
around the heel of it. 

Patrick T. K. raised an eyebrow at this, but he didn’t raise it very high. 
A sly gold dealer meets all types. 


There is one period of our World History that has aspects so afferent 
from anything that went before and after that we can only gaze back on 
those several hundred years and ask: 

“Was that ourselves who behaved so?” 

Well, no, as a matter of fact, it wasn’t. It was beings of another sort 
who visited us briefly anid who acted so gloriously and abominably. 

This is the way it was: 

The Children had a Long Afternoon free. They could go to any of a 
dozen wonderful places, but they were already in one. 

Seven of them — full to the craw of wonderful places — decided to go 
to Eretz. 

“Children are attracted to the oddest and most shambling things,” 
said the Mothers. “Why should they want to go to Eretz?” 

“Let them go,” said the Fathers. “Let them see — before they be gone 
— one of the few simple peoples left. We ourselves have become a 
contrived and compromised people. Let the Children be children for half 
a day.” 

Eretz was the Planet of the Offense, and therefore it was to be 
(perhaps it recently had been) the Planet of the Restitution also. But in no 
other way was it distinguished. The Children had received the tradition of 
Eretz as children receive all traditions — like lightning. 

Hobble, Michael Goodgrind, Ralpha, Lonnie, Laurie, Bea and Joan 
they called themselves as they came down on Eretz — for these were their 
idea of Eretzi names. But they could have as many names as they wished 
in their games. 

An anomalous intrusion of great heat and force! The rocks ran like 
water where they came down, and there was formed a scarp-pebble 

It was all shanty country and shanty towns on Eretz — clumsy hills, 
badly done plains and piedmonts, ragged fields, uncleansed rivers, whole 
weedpatches of provinces — not at all like Home. And the Towns! 
Firenze, Praha, Venezia, Londra, Colonia, Gant, Roma — why, they were 
nothing but towns made out of stone and wood! And these were the 
greatest of the towns of Eretz, not the meanest. 

The Children exploded into action. Like children of the less 

transcendent races running wild on an ocean beach for an afternoon, they 
ran wild over continents. They scattered. And they took whatever forms 
first came into their minds. 

Hobble — dark and smoldering like crippled Vulcan. 

Michael Goodgrind — a broken-nosed bull of a man. How they all 
howled when he invented that first form! 

Ralpha — like young Mercury. 

And Lonnie — a tall giant with a golden beard. 

Laurie was fire, Bea was light, Joan was moon-darkness. 

But in these, or in any other forms they took, you’d always know that 
they were cousins or brethren. 

Lonnie went pure Gothic. He had come onto it at the tail end of the 
thing and he fell in love with it. 

“I am the Emperorl” he told the people like giant thunder. He pushed 
the Emperor Wenceslas off the throne and became Emperor. 

“I am the true son of Charles, and you had thought me dead,” he told 
the people. “I am Sigismund.” Sigismund was really dead, but Lonnie 
became Sigismund and reigned, taking the wife and all the castles of 
Wenceslas. He grabbed off gangling old forts and mountain-rooks and 
raised howling Eretzi armies to make war. He made new castles. He loved 
the tall sweeping things and raised them to a new height. Have you never 
wondered that the last of those castles — in the late afternoon of the 
Gothic — were the tallest and oddest? 

One day the deposed Wencesas came back, and he was possessed of a 
new power. 

“Now we will see who is the real Emperor!” the new Wenceslas cried 
like a rising storm. 

They crashed their tnvo forces and broke clown each other’s bridges 
and towns and stole the high ladies from each other’s strongholds. They 
wrestled like boys. But they wrestled with a continent. 

Lonnie (who was Sigismund) learned that the Wenceslas he battled 
was Michael Goodgrind wearing a contrived Emperor body. So they 
fought harder. 

There came a new man out of an old royal line. 

“I am Jobst,” the new man cried. “I will show you two princelings who 
is the real Emperor!” 

He fought the two of them with overwhelming verve. He He raised 

fast-striking Eretzi armies, and used tricks that only a young Mercury 
would know. He was Ralpha, entering the game as the third Emperor. But 
the two combined against him and broke him at Constance. 

They smashed Germany and France and Italy like a clutch of eggs. 
Never had there been such spirited conflict. The Eretzi were amazed by it 
all, but they were swept into it; it was the Eretzi who made up the armies. 

Even today the Eretzi or Earthers haven’t the details of it right in their 
histories. When the King of Aragon, for an example, mixed into it, they 
treated him as a separate person. They did not know that Michael 
Goodgrind was often the King of Aragon, just as Lonnie was often the 
Duke of Flanders. But, played for itself, the Emperor game would be quite 
a limited one. Too limited for the children. 

The girls played their own roles. Laurie claimed to be thirteen 
different queens. She was consort of all three Emperors in every one of 
their guises, and she also dabbled with the Eretzi, She was the wanton of 
the group. 

Bea liked the Grande Dame part and the Lady Bountiful bit. She was 
very good on Great Renunciations. In her different characters, she beat 
paths from thrones to nunneries and back again; and she is now known 
as five different saints. Every time you turn to the Common of the Mass of 
Holy Women who are Neither Virgins nor Martyrs, you are likely to meet 

And Joan was the dreamer who may have enjoyed the Afternoon more 
than any of them. 

Laurie made up a meodrama — Lucrezia Borgia and tne Poison Ring. 
There is an advantage in doing these little melodramas on Eretz. You can 
have as many characters as you wish — they come free. You can have 
them act as extravagantly as you desire — who is there to object to it? 
Lucrezia was very well done, as children’s burlesques go, and the bodies 
were strewn from Napoli to Vienne. The Eretzi play with great eagerness 
any convincing part offered them, and they go to their deaths quite 
willingly if the part calls for it. 

Lonnie made one up called The Pawn-Broker and th Pope. It was in 
the grand manner, all about the Medici family, and had some very funny 
episodes in the fourth as Lonnie, who was vain of his acting ability, 
played Medici parts in five succeeding generations. The drama left more 
corpses than did the Lucrezia piece, but the killings weren’t sudden or 

showy; the girls had a better touch at the bloody stuff. 

Ralpha did a Think Piece called One, Two, Three — Infinity. In its 
presentation he put all the rest of the Children to roast grandly in Hell; he 
filled up Purgatory with Eretzi-type people — the dullards; and for the 
Paradise he did burlesque of Home. The Eretzi use a cropped version 
Ralpha’s piece and call it the Divine Comedy, leaving out a lot of fun. 

Bea did a poetic one named the Witches’ Bonfire. All Children spent 
many a happy evening with that one, and they burnt twenty thousand 
witches. There was something satisfying about those Eretzi autumnal 
twilights with the scarlet and the frosty fields and the kine lowing in the 
meadows the evening smell of witches burning. Bea’s was really a 
pastoral piece. 

All the Children ranged far except Hobble. Hobble (who was Vulcan) 
played with his sick toys. He play at Ateliers and Smithies, at Furnaces 
and Carousels. And often the Children came and watched his work, and 
joined in while. 

They played with the glass from the furnaces. They goldtoned goblets, 
iridescent glass poems, figures spheres, goblin pitchers, glass music 
boxes, gargoyle heads, dragon chargers, princess salieras, figurines of 
lovers, So many things to make of glass! To make, and to smash when 

But some of the things they exchanged as gifts instead of smashing 
them — glass birds and horses, fortune-telling globes that swowed 
changing people and scenes within, tuned chiming balls that rang like 
bells, glass cats that sparkled when stroked, wolves and bears, witches 
that flew. 

The Eretzi found some of these things that the Children discared. 
They studied them and imitated them. 

And again, in the interludes of their other games, the Children came 
back to Hobble’s shops where he sometimes worked with looms. They 
made costumes of wool and linen and silk. They made trains and cloaks 
and mantles, all the things for their grand masquerades. They fabricated 
tapestries and rugs and wove in all sorts of scenes: vistas of Home and of 
Eretz, people and peacocks, fish and cranes, dingles and dromedaries, 
larks and lovers. They set their creations in the strange ragged scenery of 
Eretz and in the rich contrived gardens of Home. A spark went from the 
Children to their weaving so that none could tell where they left off and 

their creations began. 

Then they left poor Hobble and went on to their more vital games. 

There were seven of them (six, not counting the backward Hobble), 
but they seemed a thousand. They built themselves castles in Spain and 
Gardes in Languedoc. The girls played always at Intrigue, for the high 
pleasure of it, and to give a causus for the wars. And the wars were the 
things that the boys seldom tired of. It is fun to play at armies with live 
warriors; and the Etetzi were live... in a sense. 

The Eretzi had had wars and armies and sieges long before this, but 
they had been aimless things. Oh, this was one field where the Eretzi 
needed the Children. Consider the battles that the Children engineered 
that afternoon: 

Gallipoli — how they managed the ships in that one! The Fathers 
could not have maneuvered more intricately in their four-dimension 
chess at Home. 

Adrianople, Kunovitza, Dibra, Varna, Hexamilion! It’s fun just to call 
out the bloody names of battles. 

Constantinople! That was the one where they first used the big 
cannon. But who cast the big cannon for the Turks there? In their 
histories the Eretzi say that it was a man named Orban or Urban, and 
that he wis Dacian, or he was Hungarian, or he was Danish. How many 
places did you tell them thalt you came from, Michael Goodgrind? 

Belgrade, Trebizond, Morat, Blackheath, Napoli, Donach! 

Capua and Taranto — Ralpha’s armies beat Michael’s at both of those. 

Carignola — Lonnie foxed both Michael and Ralpha there, and nearly 
foxed himself. (You didn’t intend it all that way, Lonnie. It was seven- 
cornered luck and you know it!) 

Garigliano where the sea was red with blood and the ships were like 
broken twigs on the water! 

Brescia! Ravenna! Who would have believed that such things could be 
done with a device known as Spanish infantry? 

Villalar, Milan, Pavia! Best of all, the sack of Rome! There were a 
dozen different games blended into that one. The Eretzi discovered new 
emotions in themselves there — a deeper depravity and a higher 

Siege of Florence! That one called out the Children’s trick. A 
wonderfully well played game! 

Turin, San Quentin, Moncontour, Mookerhide! 

Lepanto! The great sea-siege where the castled ships broke asunder 
and the tall Turk Ochiali Pasha perished with all his fleet and was 
drowned forever. But it wasn’t so forever as you might suppose, for he 
was Michael Goodgrind who had more bodies thin one. The fish still 
remember Lepanto. Ne there been such feastings. 

Alcazar-Quivar! That was the last of the excellent ones — the end of 
the litany. The Children left off the game. They remembered (but 
conveniently, and after they had worn out the fun of it) that they were 
forbidden to play Warfare with live soldiers. The Eretzi, left to themselves 
again, once more conducted their battles as dull and uninspired affairs. 

You can put it to a test, now, tonight. Study the conflicts the earlier 
times, of this high period, and of the time that followed. You will see the 
difference. For a short two or three centuries you will find really well 
contrived battles. At before and after there is only ineptitude. 

Often the Children played at Jealousies and raised up all the black 
passions in themselves. They played at Immoralities, for there is an 
abiding evil in all children. 

Maskingss and water-carnivals and balls, and forever the emotional 

Ralpha walked downn a valley,, playing a lute and wearing the body of 
someone else. He luted the birds out of the trees and worked a charm on 
the whole countryside. 

An old crone followed him ind called, “Love me when I’m old.” 

“Sempremai, tuttava,” sang Ralpha in Eretzi or Earthian. “For Ever, 
For Always.” 

A small girl followed and called, “Love me when I’m young.” 

“Forever, for always,” sang Ralpha. 

The weirdest witch in the world followed him and called, “Love me 
when I’m ugly.” 

“For always, forever,” sang Ralpha, and pulled her down on the grass. 
He knew that all the creatures had been Laurie playing Bodies. 

But a peculiar thing happened: the prelude became more important 
than the play. Ralpha fell in love with his own song, and forgot Laurie 
who had inspired it. He made all manner of music and poem — aubade, 
madrigal, chanson; and he topped it off with one hundred sonnets. He 
made them in Eretzi words, Italy words, Languedoc words, and they were 

excellent. And the Eretzi still copy them. 

Ralpha discovered there that poetry and song are Passion Deferred. 
But Laurie would rather have deferred the song. She was long gone away 
and taking up with others before Ralpha had finished singing his love for 
her, but he never noticed that she had left him. After Hobble, Ralpha was 
the most peculiar of them all. 

In the meanwhile, Michael Goodgrind invented another game of 
Bodies. He made them of marble — an Eretzi limestone that cuts easily 
without faulting. And he painted them on canvas. He made the People of 
Home, and the Eretzi. He said that he would make angels. 

“But you cannot make angels,” said Joan. 

“We know that,” said Michael, “but do the Eretzi know at I cannot? I 
will make angels for the Eretzi.” 

He made them grotesque, like chicken men, like bird men, with an 
impossible duplication of humeral function. And the Children laughed at 
the carven jokes. But Michael had sudden inspiration. He touched his 
creations up and added an element of nobility. So an icon was born. 

All the Children did it then, and they carried it into other mediums. 
They made the Eretzi, and they made themselves. You can still see their 
deep features on some of those statues, that family look that was on them 
no matter what faces they wore or copied. 

Bronze is fun! Bronze horses are the best. Big bronze doors can be an 
orgy of delight, or bronze bells whose shape is their tone. 

The Children went to larger things. They played at Realms and 
Constitutions, and Banks and Ships and Provinces. Then they came down 
to smaller things again and played at Books, for Hobble had just invented 
the printing thing. 

Of them all, Hobble had the least imagination. He didn’t range wide 
like the others. He didn’t outrage the Eretzi. He spent all his time with his 
sick toys as though he were a child of much younger years. 

The only new body he acquired was another one just like his own. 
Even this he didn’t acquire as did the other Children theirs. He made it 
laboriously in his shop, and Hobble and the Hobble Creature worked 
together and you could not tell them apart. One was as dull and laboring 
as the other. 

The Eretzi had no effect whatsoever on the Children, but the Children 
had great effect on the Eretzi. The Children had the faculty of making 

whatever little things they needed or wanted, and the Eretzi began to 
copy them. In this manner the Eretzi came onto many tools, processes, 
devices and arts thatt they had never known before. Out of ten the were 

The Astrolabe, Equatorium, Quadrant, Lathes and Traversing Tools, 
Ball-Bearings, Gudgeons, Gig-Mills, Barometers, Range-Finders, 
Cantilever Construction, Machine-Saws, Screw-Jacks, Hammer-Forges 
and Drop-Forges, Printing, Steel that was more than puddled Iron, 
Logarithms, Hydraulic Rams, Screw-Dies, Spanner-Wrenches, Flux- 
Solder, Telescopes, Microscopes, Mortising Machines, Wire-Drawing, 
Stanches (Navigation-Locks), Gear Trains, Paper Making, Compass and 
Wind-Rhumb, Portulan Chairs and Projection Maps, Pinnule-Sights, 
Spirit-Levels, Fine Micrometers, Porcelain, Fire-Lock Guns, Music 
Notation and Music Printing, Complex Pulleys and Snatch-Blocks, the 
Seed-Drill, Playing Cards (the Children’s masquerade faces may still be 
seen on them), Tobacco, the Violin, Whisky, the Mechanical Clock. 

They were forbidden, of course, to display any second-aspect powers 
or machines, as these would disrupt things. But they disrupted accidently 
in buidling, in tooling, in armies and navies, in harbors and canals, in 
towns and bridges, in ways of thinking and recording. They started a 
thing that couldn’t be reversed. It was only the One Afternoon they were 
here, only two or three Eretzi Centuries, but they set a trend. They 
overwhelmed by the very number of their new devices, and it could never 
be simple on Eretz again. 

There were many thousands of Eretz days and nights in that Long 
Afternoon. The Children had begun to tire of it, and the hour was growing 
late. For the last time they wandered off, this time all Seven of them 

In the bodies of Kings and their Ladies, they strode down a High Road 
in the Levant. They were wondering what last thing they could contrive, 
when they found their way blocked by a Pilgrim with a staff. 

“Let’s tumble the hairy Eretzi,” shouted Ralpha. “Let him not stand in 
the way of Kings!” For Ralpha was King of Bulgaria that day. 

But they did not tumble the Pilgrim. That man knew how to handle 
his staff, and he laid the bunch of them low. It was nothing to him that 
they were the high people of the World who ordered Nations. He flogged 
them flat. 

“Bleak Children!” that Pilgrim cried out as he beat them into the 
ground. “Unfledged little oafs! Is it so that you waste your Afternoon on 
Earth? I’ll give you what your Fathers forgot.” 

Seven-colored thunder, how he could use that staff! He smashed the 
gaudy bodies of the Children and broke army of their damnable bones. 
Did he know that it didn’t matter? Did he understand that the bodies they 
wore were only for an antic? 

“Lay off, old Father!” begged Michael Goodgrind, bleeding and half 
beaten into the earth. “Stay your bloody bludgeon. You do not know who 
we are.” 

“I know you,” maintained the Pilgrim mountainously. 

“You are ignorant Childreen who have abused the Afternoon given you 
on Earth. You have marred and mined and warped everything you have 

“No, no,” Ralpha protested — as he set in new bones for his old 
damaged ones — “You do not understand. We have advanced you a 
thousand of your years in one of our afternoons. Consider the Centuries 
we have saved you! It’s as though we had increased your life by that 
thousand years.” 

“We have all the time there is,” said the Pilgrim solidly. “We were well 
and seriously along our road, and it was not so crooked is the one you 
have brought us over. You have broken our sequence with your meddling. 
You’ve set us back more ways than you’ve advanced us. You’ve shattered 
our Unity.” 

“Pigs have unity!” Joan shouted. “We’ve brought you diversity. Think 
deep. Consider all the machines we have showed you, the building and 
the technique. I can name you a thousand things we’ve given you. You 
will never be the same again.” 

“True. We will never be the same,” said the Pilgrim. “You may not be 
an unmixed curse. I’m a plain man and I don’t know. Surety is one of the 
things you’ve lost us. But you befouled us. You played the game of 
Immoralities and taught it to us earthlings.” 

“You had it already,” Laurie insisted. “We only brought elegance 
instead of piggishness to its practice.” Immoralities was Laurie’s own 
game, and she didn’t like to hear it slighted. 

“You have killed many thousands of us in your battles,” said the 
Pilgrim. “You’re a bitter fruit — sweet at the first taste only.” 

“You would yourselves have killed the same numbers in battles, and 
the battles wouldn’t have been so good,” said Michael. “Do you not realize 
that we are the higher race have roots of great antiquity.” 

“We have roots older than antiquity,” averred the Pilgrim. “You are 
wicked Children without compassion.” 

“Compassion? For the Eretzi?” shouted Lonnie in disbelief. 

“Do you have compassion for mice?” demanded Ralph 

“Yes. I have compassion for mice,” the Pilgrim said softly. 

“I make a guess,” Ralpha shot in shrewdly after they had all repaired 
their damaged bodies. “You travel as a Pilgrim, and Pilgrims sometimes 
come from very far away. You are not Eretzi. You are one of the Fathers 
from Home going in the guise of an Eretzi Pilgrim. You have this routine 
so that sometimes one of you comes to this world — to see how it goes. 
You may come to investigate an event said to have happened on Eretz a 
day ago.” 

Ralpha did not mean an Eretzi day ago, but a day ago at Home. The 
High Road they were on was in Coele-Syria not far from where the Event 
was thought to have happened, and Ralpha posted his point: 

“You are no Eretzi, or you would not dare to confront us, knowing 
what we are.” 

“You guess wrong in this and in everything,” said the Pilgrim. “I am of 
this Earth, earthly. And I will not be intimidated by a gangle of children 
of whatever species! You’re a weaker flesh than ourselves. You hide in 
other bodies, and you get earthlings to do your slaughter. And you cannot 
stand up to my staff!” 

“Go home, you witless weanlings!” and he raised his terrible staff 

“Our time is nearly up. We will be gone soon,” said Joan softly. 

The last game they played? They played Saints — for the Evil they had 
done in playing Bodies wrongly, and in playing Wars with live soldiers. 
But they repented of the things only after they had enjoyed them for the 
Long Afternoon. They played Saints in hairshirt and ashes, and revived 
that affair among the Eretzi. 

And finally they all assembled and took off from the high hill between 
Prato and Firenze in Italy. The rocks flowed like water where they left, 
and now there would be a double scarp formation. 

They were gone, and that was the end of them here. 

There is a theory, however, that one of the Hobbles remained and is 
with us yet. Hobble and his creature could not be told apart and could not 
finally tell themselves apart. They flipped an Eretzi coin, Emperors or 
Shields, to see which one would go and which one would stay. One went 
and one stayed. One is still here. 

But, after all, Hobble was only concerned with the sick toys, the 
mechanical things, the material inventions. Would it have been better if 
Ralpha or Joan stayed with US7 They’d have burned us crisp by now! They 
were damnable and irresponsible children. 

This short Historical Monograph was not assembled for a distraction 
or an amusement. We consider the evidence that Children have spent 
their short vacations here more than once and in both hemispheres. We 
set out the theses in ordered parallels and we discover that we have begun 
to tremble unaccountably. 

When last came such visitors here? What thing has beset us during 
the last long Eretzi lifetime? 

We consider a new period — and it impinges on the Present — with 
aspects so different from anything that went before that we can only gasp 
aghast and gasp in sick wonder: 

“Is it ourselves who behave so? 

“Is it beings of another sort, or have we become beings? 

“Are we ourselves? Are these our deeds?” 

There are great deep faces looking over our shoulder, there are cold 
voices of ancient Children jeering “Compassion? For Earthlings?” there is 
nasty frozen laughter that does belong to our species. 


In the year 1893, land allotments in severalty were made to the 
remaining eight hundred and twenty-one Pawnee Indians. Each would 
receive one hundred and sixty acres of land and no more, and thereafter 
the Pawnees would be expected to pay taxes on their land, the same as 
the White-Eyes did. 

“Kitkehahke!” Clarence Big-Saddle cussed. “You can’t kick a dog 
around proper on a hundred and sixty acres. And I sure am not hear 
before about this pay taxes on land.” 

Clarence Big-Saddle selected a nice green valley for his allotment. It 
was one of the half dozen plots he had always regarded as his own. He 
sodded around the summer lodge that he had there and made it an all- 
season home. But he sure didn’t intend to pay taxes on it. 

So he burned leaves and bark and made a speech: 

“That my valley be always wide and flourish and green and such stuff 
as that!” he orated in Pawnee chant style. “But that it be narrow if an 
intruder come.” 

He didn’t have any balsam bark to burn. He threw on a little cedar 
bark instead. He didn’t have any elder leaves. He used a handful of jack- 
oak leaves. And he forgot the word. How you going to work it if you forget 
the word? 

“Petahauerat!” he howled out with the confidence he hoped would fool 
the fates. 

“That’s the same long of a word,” he said in a low aside to himself. But 
he was doubtful. “What am I, a White Man, a burr-tailed jack, a new kind 
of nut to think it will work?” he asked. “I have to laugh at me. Oh well, we 

He threw the rest of the bark and the leaves on the fire, and he 
hollered the wrong word out again. 

And he was answered by a dazzling sheet of summer lightning. 

“Skidi!” Clarence Big-Saddle swore. “It worked. I didn’t think it 

Clarence Big-Saddle lived on his land for many years, and he paid no 
taxes. Intruders were unable to come down to his place. The land was 
sold for taxes three times, but nobody ever came down to claim it. Finally, 
it was carried as open land on the books. Homesteaders filed on it several 

times, but none of them fulfilled the qualification of living on the land. 

Half a century went by. Clarence Big-Saddle called his son. 

“I’ve had it, boy,” he said. “I think I’ll just go in the house and die.” 

“Okay, Dad,” the son Clarence Little-Saddle said. “I’m going in to 
town to shoot a few games of pool with the boys. I’ll bury you when I get 
back this evening.” So the son Clarence Little-Saddle inherited. He also 
lived on the land for many years without paying taxes. 

There was a disturbance in the courthouse one day. The place seemed 
to be invaded in force, but actually there were but one man, one woman, 
and five children. “I’m Robert Rampart,” said the man, “and we want the 
Land Office.” 

“I’m Robert Rampart Junior,” said a nine-year-old gangler, “and we 
want it pretty blamed quick.” 

“I don’t think we have anything like that,” the girl at the desk said. 
“Isn’t that something they had a long time ago?” 

“Ignorance is no excuse for inefficiency, my dear,” said Mary Mabel 
Rampart, an eight-year-old who could easily pass for eight and a half. 
“After I make my report, I wonder who will be sitting at your desk 

“You people are either in the wrong state or the wrong century,” the 
girl said. 

“The Homestead Act still obtains,” Robert Rampart insisted. “There is 
one tract of land carried as open in this county. I want to file on it.” 

Cecilia Rampart answered the knowing wink of a beefy man at the 
distant desk. “Hi,” she breathed as she slinked over. “I’m Cecilia 
Rampart, but my stage name is Cecilia San Juan. Do you think that seven 
is too young to play ingenue roles?” 

“Not for you,” the man said. “Tell your folks to come over here.” 

“Do you know where the Land Office is?” Cecilia asked. 

“Sure. It’s the fourth left-hand drawer of my desk. The smallest office 
we got in the whole courthouse. We don’t use it much any more.” 

The Ramparts gathered around. The beefy man started to make out 
the papers. 

“This is the land description,” Robert Rampart began. “Why, you’ve 
got it down already. How did you know?” 

“I’ve been around here a long time,” the man answered. 

They did the paper work, and Robert Rampart filed on the land. 

“You won’t be able to come onto the land itself though,” the man said. 

“Why won’t I?” Rampart demanded. “Isn’t the description accurate?” 

“Oh, I suppose so. But nobody’s ever been able get to the land. It’s 
become a sort of joke.” 

“Well, I intend to get to the bottom of that joke,” Rampart insisted. “I 
will occupy the land, or I will fin out why not.” 

“I’m not sure about that” the beefy man said. “The last man to file on 
the land, about a dozen years ago, wasn’t able to occupy the land. And he 
wasn’t able to say why he couldn’t. It’s kind of interesting, the look on 
their faces after they try it for a day or two, and then give it up.” 

The Ramparts left the courthouse, loaded into their camper, and 
drove out to find their land. They stopped it at the house of a cattle and 
wheat farmer named Charley Dublin. Dublin met them with a grin which 
indicated he had been tipped off. 

“Come along if you want to, folks,” Dublin said. “The easiest way is on 
foot across my short pasture here. Your land’s directly west of mine.” 

They walked the short distance to the border. 

“My name is Tom Rampart, Mr. Dublin.” Six-year old Tom made 
conversation as they walked. “But my name is really Ramires, and not 
Tom. I am the issue of an indiscretion of my mother in Mexico several 
years ago.” 

“The boy is a kidder,” Mr. Dublin,” said the mother Nina Rampart, 
defending herself. “I have never been in Mexico, but sometimes I have the 
urge to disappear there forever.” 

“Ah yes, Mrs. Rampart. And what is the name of the youngest boy 
here?” Charley Dublin asked. 

“Fatty,” said Fatty Rampart. 

(But surely that is not your given name?” 

“Audifax,” said five-year-old Fatty. 

“Ah well, Audifax, Fatty, are you a kidder too?” 

“He’s getting better at it, Mr. Dublin,” Mary Mabel said. “He was a 
twin till last week. His twin was named Skinny. Mama left Skinny 
unguarded while she was out tippling, and there were wild dogs in the 
neighborhood. When Mama got back, do you know what was left of 
Skinny? Two neck bones and an ankle bone. That was all.” 

“Poor Skinny,” Dublin said. “Well, Rampart, this is the fence and the 
end of my land. Yours is just beyond.” 

“Is that ditch on my land?” Rampart asked. 

“That ditch is your land.” 

“I’ll have it filled in. It’s a dangerous deep cut even if it is narrow. And 
the other fence looks like a good one, and I sure have a pretty plot of land 
beyond it.” 

“No, Rampart, the land beyond the second fence belongs to Holister 
Hyde,” Charley Dublin said. “That second fence is the end of your land.” 

“Now, just wait a minute, Dublin! There’s something wrong here. My 
land is one hundred and sixty acres, which would be a half mile on a side. 
Where’s my half-mile width?” 

“Between the two fences.” 

“That’s not eight feet.” 

“Doesn’t look like it, does it, Rampart? Tell you what — there’s plenty 
of throwing-sized rocks around. Try to throw one across it.” 

“I’m not interested in any such boys’ games,” Rampart exploded. “I 
want my land.” 

But the Rampart children were interested in such games. They got 
with it with those throwing rocks. They winged them out over the little 
gully. The stones acted funny. They hung in the air, as it were, and 
diminished in size. And they were small as pebbles when they dropped 
down, down into the gully. None of them could throw a stone across that 
ditch, and they were throwing kids. 

“You and your neighbor have conspired to fence open land for your 
own use,” Rampart charged. 

“No such thing, Rampart,” Dublin said cheerfully. “My land checks 
perfectly. So does Hyde’s. So does yours, if we knew how to check it. It’s 
like one of those trick topological drawings. It really is half a mile from 
here to there, but the eye gets lost somewhere. It’s your land. Crawl 
through the fence and figure it out.” 

Rampart crawled through the fence, and drew himself up to jump the 
gully. Then he hesitated. He a glimpse of just how deep that gully was. 
Still, it wasn’t five feet across. 

There was a heavy fence post on the ground, designed for use as a 
corner post. Rampart up-ended it with some effort. Then he shoved it to 
fall and bridge the gully. But it fell short, and it shouldn’t have. An eight- 
foot post should bridge a five-foot gully. 

The post fell into the gully, and rolled and rolled and rolled. It spun as 

though it were rolling outward, but it made no progress except vertically. 
The post came to rest on a ledge of the gully, so close that Rampart could 
almost reach out and touch it, but it now appeared no bigger than a 
match stick. 

“There is something wrong with that fence post, or with the world, or 
with my eyes,” Robert Rampart said. “I wish I felt dizzy so I could blame 
it on that.” 

“There’s a little game that I sometimes play with my neighbor Hyde 
when we’re both out,” Dublin said. “I’ve heavy rifle and I train it on the 
middle of his forehead as he stands on the other side of the ditch 
apparently eight feet away. I fire it off then (I’m a good shot) and I hear it 
whine across. It’d kill him dead if things were as they seem. But Hyde’s in 
no danger. The shot always bangs into that little scuff of rocks and 
boulders about thirty feet below him. I can see it kick up the rock dust 
there, and the sound of it rattling into those little boulders comes back to 
me in about two and a all seconds.” 

A bull-bat (poor people call it the night-hawk) raveled around in the 
air and zoomed out over the narrow ditch, but it did not reach the other 
side. The bird dropped below ground level and could be seen against the 
background of the other side of the ditch. It grew smaller and hazier as 
though at a distance of three or four hundred yards. The white bars on its 
wings could no longer be discerned; then the bird itself could hardly be 
discerned; but it was far short of the other side of the five-foot ditch. 

A man identified by Charley Dublin as the neighbor Hollister Hyde 
had appeared on the other side of the little ditch. Hyde grinned and 
waved. He shouted something, but could not be heard. 

“Hyde and I both read mouths,” Dublin said, “so we can talk across 
the ditch easy enough. Which kid wants to play chicken? Hyde will barrel 
a good-sized rock right at your head, and if you duck or flinch you’re 

“Me! Me!” Audifax Rampart challenged. And Hyde, a big man with big 
hands, did barrel a fearsome jagged rock right at the head of the boy. It 
would have killed him if things had been as they appeared. But the rock 
diminished to nothing and disappeared into the ditch. Here was a 
phenomenon: things seemed real-sized on either side of the ditch, but 
they diminished coming out over the ditch either way. 

“Everybody game for it?” Robert Rampart Junior asked. 

“We won’t get down there by standing here,” Mary Mabel said. 

“Nothing wenchered, nothing gained,” said Cecilia. “I got that from an 
ad for a sex comedy.” 

Then the five Rampart kids ran down into the gully. Ran down is 
right. It was almost as if they ran down the vertical face of a cliff. They 
couldn’t do that. The gully was no wider than the stride of the biggest 
kids. But the gully diminished those children, it ate them alive. They were 
doll-sized. They were acorn-sized. They were running for minute after 
minute across a ditch that was only five feet across. They were going, 
deeper in it, and getting smaller. Robert Rampart was roaring his alarm, 
and his wife Nina was screaming. Then she stopped. “What am I carrying 
on so loud about?” she asked herself. “It looks like fun. I’ll do it too.” 

She plunged into the gully, diminished in size as the children had 
done, and ran at a pace to carry her a hundred yards away across a gully 
only five feet wide. 

That Robert Rampart stirred things up for a while then. He got the 
sheriff there, and the highway patrolmen. A ditch had stolen his wife and 
five children, he said, and maybe had killed them. And if anybody laughs, 
there may be another killing. He got the colonel of the State National 
Guard there, and a command post set up. He got a couple of airplane 
pilots. Robert Rampart bad one quality: when he hollered, people came. 

He got the newsmen out from T-Town, and the eminent scientists, Dr. 
Velikof Vonk, Arpad Arkabaranan, and Willy McGilly. That bunch turns 
up every time you get on a good one. They just happen to be in that part 
of the country where something interesting is going on. 

They attacked the thing from all four sides and the top, and by inner 
and outer theory. If a thing measures half a mile on each side, and the 
sides are straight, there just has to be something in the middle of it. They 
took pictures from the air, and they turned out perfect. They proved that 
Robert Rampart had the prettiest hundred and sixty acres in the country, 
the larger part of it being a lush green valley, and all of it being half a mile 
on a side, and situated just where it should be. They took ground-level 
photos then, and it showed a beautiful half-mile stretch of land between 
the boundaries of Charley Dublin and Hollister Hyde. But a man isn’t a 
camera. None of them could see that beautiful spread with the eyes in 
their heads. Where was it? 

Down in the valley itself everything was normal. It really was half a 

mile wide and no more than eighty feet deep with a very gentle slope. It 
was warm and sweet, and beautiful with grass and grain. 

Nina and the kids loved it, and they rushed to see what squatter had 
built that little house on their land. A house, or a shack. It had never 
known paint, but paint would have spoiled it. It was built of split timbers 
dressed near smooth with ax and draw knife, chinked with white clay, 
and sodded up to about half its height. And there was an interloper 
standing by the little lodge. 

“Here, here what are you doing on our land?” Robert Rampart Junior 
demanded of the man. “Now you just shamble off again wherever you 
came from. I’ll bet you’re a thief too, and those cattle are stolen.” 

“Only the black-and-white calf,” Clarence Little-Saddle said. “I 
couldn’t resist him, but the rest are mine. I guess I’ll just stay around and 
see that you folks get settled all right.” 

“Is there any wild Indians around here?” Fatty Rampart asked. 

“No, not really. I go on a bender about every three months and get a 
little bit wild, and there’s a couple Osage boys from Gray Horse that get 
noisy sometimes, but that’s about all,” Clarence Little-Saddle said. 

“You certainly don’t intend to palm yourself off on us as an Indian,” 
Mary Mabel challenged. “You’ll find us a little too knowledgeable for 

“Little girl, you might as well tell this cow there’s no room for her to be 
a cow since you’re so knowledgeable. She thinks she’s a short-horn cow 
named Sweet Virginia; I think I’m a Pawnee Indian named Clarence. 
Break it to us real gentle if we’re not.” 

“If you’re an Indian where’s your war bonnet? There’s not a feather on 
you anywhere.” 

“How you be sure? There’s a story that we got feathers instead of hair 
on — Aw, I can’t tell a joke like that to a little girl! How come you’re not 
wearing the Iron Crown of Lombardy if you’re a white girl? How you 
expect me to believe you’re a little white girl and your folks came from 
Europe a couple hundred years ago if you don’t wear it? There are six 
hundred tribes, and only one of them, the Oglala Sioux, had the war 
bonnet, and only the big leaders, never more than two or three of them 
alive at one time, wore it.” 

“Your analogy is a little strained,” Mary Mabel said. “Those Indians 
we saw in Florida and the ones at Atlantic City had war bonnets, and they 

couldn’t very well have been the kind of Sioux you said. And just last 
night on the TV in the motel, those Massachusetts Indians put a war 
bonnet on the President and called him the Great White Father. You 
mean to tell me that they were all phonies? Hey, who’s laughing at who 

“If you’re an Indian where’s your bow and arrow?” Tom Rampart 
interrupted. “I bet you can’t even shoot one.” 

“You’re sure right there,” Clarence admitted. “I never shot one of 
those things but once in my life. They used to have an archery range in 
Boulder Park over in T-Town, and you could rent the things and shoot at 
targets tied to hay bales. Hey, I barked my whole forearm and nearly 
broke my thumb when the bow-string thwacked home. I couldn’t shoot 
that thing at all. I don’t see how anybody ever could shoot one of them.” 

“Okay, kids,” Nina Rampart called to her brood. “Let’s start pitching 
this junk out of the shack so we can move in. Is there any way we can 
drive our camper down here, Clarence?” 

“Sure, there’s a pretty good dirt road, and it’s a lot wider than it looks 
from the top. I got a bunch of green bills in an old night charley in the 
shack. Let me get them, and then I’ll clear out for a while. The shack 
hasn’t been cleaned out for seven years, since the last time this happened. 
I’ll show you the road to the top, and you can bring your car down it.” 

“Hey, you old Indian, you lied!” Cecilia Rampart shrilled from the 
doorway of the shack. “You do have a war bonnet. Can I have it?” 

“I didn’t mean to lie, I forgot about that thing,” Clarence Little-Saddle 
said. “My son Clarence Bare-Back sent that to me from Japan for a joke a 
long time ago. Sure, you can have it.” 

An the children were assigned tasks carrying the junk out of the shack 
and setting fire to it. Nina Rampart and Clarence Little-Saddle ambled up 
to the rim of the valley by the vehicle road that was wider than it looked 
from the top. 

“Nina, you’re back! I thought you were gone forever, Robert Rampart 
jittered at seeing her again. “What — where are the children?” 

“Why, I left them down in the valley, Robert. That is, ah, down in that 
little ditch right there. Now you’ve got me worried again. I’m going to 
drive the camper down there and unload it. You’d better go on down and 
lend a hand too, Robert, and quit talking to all these funny-looking men 

And Nina went back to Dublin’s place for the camper. “It would be 
easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for that intrepid 
woman to drive a car down into that narrow ditch,” the eminent scientist 
Dr. Velikof Vonk said. 

“You know how that camel does it?” Clarence Little-Saddle offered, 
appearing of a sudden from nowhere. “He just closes one of his own eyes 
and flops back his ears and plunges right through. A camel is mighty 
narrow when he closes one eye and flops back his ears. Besides, they use 
a big-eyed needle in the act.” 

“Where’d this crazy man come from?” Robert Rampart demanded, 
jumping three feet in the air. “Things are coming out of the ground now. I 
want my land! I want my children! I want my wife! Whoops, here she 
comes driving it. Nina, you can’t drive a loaded camper into a little ditch 
like that! You’ll be killed or collapsed!” 

Nina Rampart drove the loaded camper into the little ditch at a pretty 
good rate of speed. The best of belief is that she just closed one eye and 
plunged right through. The car diminished and dropped, and it was 
smaller than a toy car. But it raised a pretty good cloud of dust as it 
bumped for several hundred yards across a ditch that was only five feet 

“Rampart, it’s akin to the phenomenon known as looming, only in 
reverse,” the eminent scientist Arpad Arkabaranan explained as he 
attempted to throw a rock across the narrow ditch. The rock rose very 
high in the air, seemed to hang at its apex while it diminished to the size 
of a grain of sand, and then fell into the ditch not six inches of the way 
across. There isn’t anybody going to throw across a half-mile valley even 
if it looks five feet. “Look at a rising moon sometimes, Rampart. It 
appears very large, as though covering a great sector of the horizon, but it 
only covers one-half of a degree. It is hard to believe that you could set 
seven hundred and twenty of such large moons side by side around the 
horizon, or that it would take one hundred and eighty of the big things to 
reach from the horizon to a point overhead. It is also hard to believe that 
your valley is twelve hundred times as wide as it appears, but it has been 
surveyed, and it is.” 

“I want my land. I want my children. I want my wife,” Robert chanted 
dully. “Damn, I let her get away again.” 

“I tell you, Rampy,” Clarence Little-Saddle squared on him, “a man 

that lets his wife get away twice doesn’t deserve to keep her. I give you till 
nightfall; then you forfeit. I’ve taken a liking to the brood. One of us is 
going to be down there tonight.” 

After a while a bunch of them were off in that little tavern on the road 
between Cleveland and Osage. It was only half a mile away. If the valley 
had run in the other direction, it would have been only six feet away. 

“It is a psychic nexus in the form of an elongated dome,” said the 
eminent scientist Dr. Velikof Vonk. “It is maintained subconsciously by 
the concatenation of at least two minds, the stronger of them belonging to 
a man dead for many years. It has apparently existed for a little less than 
a hundred years, and in another hundred years it will be considerably 
weakened. We know from our checking out folk tales of Europe as well as 
Cambodia that these ensorceled areas seldom survive for more than two 
hundred and fifty years. The person who first set such a thing in being 
will usually lose interest in it, and in all worldly things, within a hundred 
years of his own death. This is a simple thanato-psychic limitation. As a 
short-term device, the thing has been used several times as a military 

“This psychic nexus, as long as it maintains itself, causes group 
illusion, but it is really a simple thing. It doesn’t fool birds or rabbits or 
cattle, or cameras, only humans. There is nothing meteorological about it. 
It is strictly psychological. I’m glad I was able to give a scientific 
explanation to it or it would have worried me.” 

“It is continental fault coinciding with a noospheric fault,” said the 
eminent scientist Arpad Arkabaranan. “The valley really is half a mile 
wide, and at the same time it really is only five feet wide. If we measured 
correctly, we would get these dual measurements. Of course it is 
meteorological! Everything including dreams is meteorological. It is the 
animals and cameras which are fooled, as lacking a true dimension; it is 
only humans who see the true duality. The phenomenon should be 
common along the whole continental fault where the earth gains or loses 
half a mile that has to go somewhere. Likely it extends through the whole 
sweep of the Cross Timbers. Many of those trees appear twice, and many 
do not appear at all. A man in the proper state of mind could farm that 
land or raise cattle on it, but it doesn’t really exist. There is a clear parallel 
in the Luftspiegelungthal sector in the Black Forest of Germany which 
exists, or does not exist, according to the circumstances and to the 

attitude of the beholder. Then we have the case of Mad Mountain in 
Morgan; County, Tennessee, which isn’t there all the time; and also the 
Little Lobo Mirage south of Presidio, Texas, from which twenty thousand 
barrels of water were pumped in one two-and~a-half-year period before 
the mirage reverted to mirage status. I’m glad I was able to give a 
scientific explanation to this or it would have worried me.” 

“I just don’t understand how he worked it,” said the eminent scientist 
Willy McGilly; “Cedar bark, jack-oak leaves, and the world ‘Petahauerat.’ 
The thing’s impossible! When I was a boy and we wanted to make a hide¬ 
out, we used bark from the skunk-spruce tree, the leaves of a box-elder, 
and the word was ‘Boadicea.’ All three elements are wrong here. I cannot 
find a scientific explanation for it, and it does worry me.” 

They went back to Narrow Valley. Robert Rampart was still chanting 
dully: “I want my land. I want my children. I want my wife.” 

Nina Rampart came chugging up out of the narrow ditch in the 
camper and emerged through that little gate a few yards down the fence 

“Supper’s ready and we’re tired of waiting for you, Robert,” she said. 
“A fine homesteader you are! Afraid to come onto your own land! Come 
along now; I’m tired of waiting for you.” 

“I want my land! I want my children! I want my wife!” Robert 
Rampart still chanted. “Oh, there you are, Nina. You stay here this time. I 
want my land! I want my children! I want an answer to this terrible 

“It is time we decided who wears the pants in this family,” Nina said 
stoutly. She picked up her husband, slung him over her shoulder, carried 
him to the camper and dumped him in, slammed (as it seemed) a dozen 
doors at once, and drove furiously down into the Narrow Valley, which 
already seemed wider. 

Why, that place was getting normaler and normaler the minute! 
Pretty soon it looked almost as wide as was supposed to be. The psychic 
nexus in the form an elongated dome had collapsed. The continental fault 
that coincided with the noospheric fault had faced facts and decided to 
conform. The Ramparts were in effective possession of their homestead, 
and Narrow Valley was as normal as any place anywhere. 

“I have lost my land,” Clarence Little-Saddle moaned. “It was the land 
of my father Clarence Big-Saddle, and I meant it to be the land of my son 

Clarence Bare-Back. It looked so narrow that people did not notice how 
wide it was, and people did not try to enter it. Now I have lost it.” 

Clarence Little-Saddle and the eminent scientist Willy McGilly were 
standing on the edge of Narrow Valley, which now appeared its true half- 
mile extent. The moon was just rising, so big that it filled a third of the 
sky. Who would have imagined that it would take a hundred and eight of 
such monstrous things to reach from the horizon to a point overhead, and 
yet you could sight it with sighters and figure it so. 

“I had a little bear-cat by the tail and I let go,” Clarence groaned. “I 
had a fine valley for free, and I have lost it. I am like that hard-luck guy in 
the funny-paper or Job in the Bible. Destitution is my lot.” 

Willy McGilly looked around furtively. They were alone on the edge of 
the half-mile-wide valley. 

“Let’s give it a booster shot,” Willy McGilly said. 

Hey, those two got with it! They started a snapping fire and began to 
throw the stuff onto it. Bark from the dog-elm tree — how do you know it 
won’t work? 

It was working! Already the other side of the valley seemed a hundred 
yards closer, and there were alarmed noises coming up from the people in 
the valley. 

Leaves from a black locust tree-and the valley narrowed still more! 
There was, more over, terrified screaming of both children and big people 
from the depths of Narrow Valley, and the happy voice of Mary Mabel 
Rampart chanting “Earthquake! Earthquake!” 

“That my valley be always wide and flourish and such stuff, and green 
with money and grass!” Clarence Little-Saddle orated in Pawnee chant 
style, “but that it be narrow if intruders come, smash them like bugs!” 

People, that valley wasn’t over a hundred feet wide; now, and the 
screaming of the people in the bottom of the valley had been joined by the 
hysterical coughing of the camper car staring up. 

Willy and Clarence threw everything that was left on the fire. But the 
word? The word? Who remembers the word? 

“Corsicanatexas!” Clarence Little-Saddle howled out with confidence 
he hoped would fool the fates. 

He was answered not only by a dazzling sheet of summer lightning, 
but also by thunder and raindrops. 

“Chahiksi!” Clarence Little-Saddle swore. “It worked. I didn’t think it 

would. It will be all right now. I can use the rain.” 

The valley was again a ditch only five feet wide. 

The camper car struggled out of Narrow Valley through the little gate. 
It was smashed flat as a sheet of paper, and the screaming kids and 
people in it had only one dimension. 

“It’s closing in! It’s closing in!” Robert Rampart roared, and he was no 
thicker than if he had been made out of cardboard. 

“Were smashed like bugs,” the Rampart boys intoned. “Were thin 
like paper. 

“Mort, mine, ecrasement!” spoke-acted Cecilia Rampart like the great 
tragedienne she was. 

“Help! Help!” Nina Rampart croaked, but she winked at Willy and 
Clarence as they rolled by. “This homesteading jag always did leave me a 
little flat.” 

“Don’t throw those paper dolls away. They might be the Ramparts,” 
Mary Mabel called. 

The camper car coughed again and bumped along on level ground. 
This couldn’t last forever. The car was widening out as it bumped along. 

“Did we overdo it, Clarence?” Willy MeGilly asked. “What did one flat- 
lander say to the other?” 

“Dimension of us never got around,” Clarence said. “No, I don’t think 
we overdid it, Willy. That car must be eighteen inches wide already, and 
they all ought to be normal by the time they reach the main road. The 
next time I do it, I think I’ll throw wood-grain plastic on the fire to see 
who’s kidding who.” 



Subtitled Critical Observations of a Parallel Culture on a Neighboring 
World, and Evaluations of THE OTHER WAY OF EDUCATION. 

Extract from the Day Book: 

“Where,” we asked the Information Factor at Camiroi City Terminal, 
“is the office of the local PTA?” 

“Isn’t any,” he said cheerfully. 

“You mean that in Camiroi City, the metropolis of the planet, there is 
no PTA?” our chairman Paul Piper asked with disbelief. 

“Isn’t any office of it. But you’re poor strangers, so you deserve an 
answer even if you can’t frame your questions properly. See that elderly 
man sitting on the bench and enjoying the sun? Go tell him you need a 
PTA. He’ll make you one.” 

“Perhaps the initials convey a different meaning on Camiroi,” said 
Miss Munch, the first surrogate chairman. “By them we mean —” “Parent 
Teachers Apparatus, of course. Colloquial English is one of the six 
Earthian languages required here, you know. Don’t be abashed. He’s a 
fine person, and he enjoys doing things for strangers. He’ll be glad to 
make you a PTA.” 

We were nonplussed, but we walked over to the man indicated. 

“We are looking for the local PTA, sir,” said Miss Smice, our second 
surrogate chairman. “We were told that you might help us.” 

“oh, certainly,” said the elderly Camiroi gentleman. “One of you arrest 
that man walking there, and we’ll get started with it.” 

“Do what?” asked our Mr. Piper. 

“Arrest him. I have noticed that your own words sometimes do not 
convey a meaning to you. I often wonder how you do communicate 
among yourselves. Arrest, take into custody, seize by any force physical or 
moral, and bring him here.” 

“Yes, sir,” cried Miss Hanks, our third surrogate chairman. She 
enjoyed things like this. She arrested the walking Camiroi man with force 
partly physical and partly moral and brought him to the group. 

“It’s a PTA they want, Meander,” the elder Camiroi said to the one 

arrested. “Grab three more, and we’ll get started. Let the lady help. She’s 
good at it.” 

Our Miss Hanks and the Camiroi man named Meander arrested three 
other Camiroi men and brought them to the group. 

“Five. It’s enough,” said the elderly Camiroi. “We are hereby 
constituted a PTA and ordered into random action. Now, how can we 
accommodate you, good Earth people?” 

“But are you legal? Are you five persons competent to be a PTA?” 
demanded our Mr. Piper. 

“Any Camiroi citizen is competent to do any job on the planet of 
Camiroi,” said one of the Camiroi men (we learned later that his name 
was Talarium), “otherwise Camiroi would be in a sad shape.” 

“It may be,” said our Miss Smice sourly. “It all seems very informal. 
What if one of you had to be World President?” 

“The odds are that it won’t come to one man in ten,” said the elderly 
Camiroi (his name was Philoxenus). “I’m the only one of this group ever 
to serve as president of this Planet, and it was a pleasant week I spent in 
the Office. Now to the point. How can we accommodate you?” 

“We would like to see one of your schools in session,” said our Mr. 
Piper. “We would like to talk to the teachers and the students. We are 
here to compare the two systems of education.” 

“There is no comparison,” said old Philoxenus, “— meaning no 
offense. Or no more than a little. On Camiroi, we practice Education. On 
Earth, they play a game, but they call it by the same name. That makes 
the confusion. Come. We’ll go to a school in session.” 

“And to a public school,” said Miss Smice suspiciously. “Do not fob off 
any fancy private school on us as typical.” 

“That would be difficult,” said Philoxenus. “There is no public school 
in Camiroi City and only two remaining on the Planet. Only a small 
fraction of one percent of the students of Camiroi are in public schools. 
We maintain that there is no more reason for the majority of children to 
be educated in a public school than to be raised in a public orphanage. 
We realize, of course, that on Earth you have made a sacred buffalo of the 
public schooL” 

“Sacred cow,” said our Mr. Piper. 

“Children and Earthlings should be corrected when they use words 
wrongly,” said Philoxenus. “How else will they learn the correct forms? 

The animal held sacred in your own near Orient was of the species bos 
bubalus rather than bos bos, a buffalo rather than a cow. Shall we go to a 

“If it cannot be a public school, at least let it be a typical school,” said 
Miss Smice. 

“That again is impossible,” said Philoxenus. “Every school on Camiroi 
is in some respect atypical.” 

We went to visit an atypical school. 

INCIDENT: Our first contact with the Camiroi students was a violent 
one. One of them, a lively little boy about eight years old, ran into Miss 
Munch, knocked her down, and broke her glasses. Then he jabbered 
something in an unknown tongue. 

“Is that Camiroi?” asked Mr. Piper with interest. “From what I have 
heard, I supposed the language to have a harsher and fuller sound.” 

“You mean you don’t recognize it?” asked Philoxenus with amusement 
“What a droll admission from an educator. The boy is very young and 
very ignorant Seein that you were Earthians, he spoke in Hindi, which the 
tongue used by more Earthians than any other. No, no, Xypete, they are 
of the minority who speak English. You can tell it by their colorless 
texture and the narrow heads on them.” 

“I say you sure do have slow reaction, lady,” the little boy Xypete 
explained. “Even subhumans should react faster than that. You just stand 
there and gape and let me bowl you over. You want me analyze you and 
see why you react so slow?” 

“No! No!” 

“You seem unhurt in structure from the fall,” the little boy continued, 
“but if I hurt you I got to fix you. Just strip down to your shift, and I’ll go 
over you and make sure you’re all right” 

“No! No! No!” 

“It’s all right,” said Philoxenus. “All Camiroi children learn primary 
medicine in the first grade, setting bones and healing contusions and 

“No! No! I’m all right But he’s broken my glasses.” 

“Come along, Earthside lady, I’ll make you so others,” said the little 
boy. “With your slow reaction time you sure can’t afford the added 
handicap of defective vision. Shall I fit you with contacts?” 

“No. I want glasses just like those which were broken. Oh heavens, 

what will I do?” 

“You come, I do,” said the little boy. It was rather revealing to us that 
the little boy was able to test Miss Munch’s eyes, grind lenses, make 
frames and have her fixed up within three minutes. “I have made some 
improvements over those you wore before,” the boy said, “to help 
compensate for your slow reaction time.” 

“Are all the Camiroi students so talented?” Mr. Piper asked. He was 

“No. Xypete is unusual,” Philoxenus said. “Most students would not 
be able to make a pair of glasses so quickly or competently till they were 
at least nine.” 

RANDOM INTERVIEWS: “How rapidly do you read?” Miss Hanks 
asked a young girl. 

“One hundred and twenty words a minute,” the girl said. 

“On Earth some of the girl students your age have learned to read at 
the rate of five hundred words a minute,” Miss Hanks said proudly. 

“When I began disciplined reading, I was reading at the rate of four 
thousand words a minute,” the girl said. “They had quite a time 
correcting me of it. I had to take remedial reading, and my parents were 
ashamed of me. Now I’ve learned to read almost slow enough.” 

“I don’t understand,” said Miss Hanks. 

“Do you know anything about Earth History or Geography?” Miss 
Smice asked a middle-sized boy. 

“We sure are sketchy on it, lady. There isn’t very much over there, is 

“Then you have never heard of Dubuque?” 

“Count Dubuque interests me. I can’t say as much for the city named 
after him. I always thought that the Count handled the matters of the 
conflicting French and Spanish land grants and the basic claims of the 
Sauk and Fox Indians very well. References to the town now carry a 
humorous connotation, and ‘School-Teacher from Dubuque’ has become 
a folk archetype.” 

“Thank you,” said Miss Smice, “or do I thank you?” 

“What are you taught of the relative humanity of the Earthians and 
the Camiroi and of their origins?” Miss Munch asked a Camiroi girl. 

“The other four worlds, Earth (Gaea), Kentauron Mikron, Dahae and 
Astrobe were all settled from Camiroi. That is what we are taught We are 

also given the humorous aside that if it isn’t true we will still hold it true 
till something better comes along. It was we who rediscovered the Four 
Worlds in historic time, not they who discovered us. If we did not make 
the original settlements, at least we have filed the first claim that we 
made them. We did, in historical time, make an additional colonization of 
Earth. You call it the Incursion of the Dorian Greeks.” 

“Where are their playgrounds?” Miss Hanks asked Talarium. 

“Oh, the whole world. The children have the run of everything. To set 
up specific playgrounds would be like setting a table-sized aquarium 
down in the depths of the ocean. It would really be pointless.” 

CONFERENCE: The four of us from Earth, specifically from Dubuque, 
Iowa, were in discussion with the five members of the Camiroi PTA. 

“How do you maintain discipline?” Mr. Piper asked, 

“Indifferently,” said Philoxenus. “Oh, you mean in detail. It varies. 
Sometimes we let it drift, sometimes we pull them up short. Once they 
have learned that they must comply to an extent, there is little trouble. 
Small children are often put down into a pit. They do not eat or come out 
till they know their assignment.” 

“But that is inhuman,” said Miss Hanks. 

“Of course. But small children are not yet entirely human. If a child 
has not learned to accept discipline by the third or fourth grade, he is 

“Literally?” asked Miss Munch. 

“How would you hang a child figuratively? And effect would that have 
on the older children?” 

“By the neck?” Miss Munch still was not satisfied. 

“By the neck until they are dead. The other children always accept the 
example gracefully and do better. Hanging isn’t employed often. Scarcely 
one child in a hundred is hanged.” 

“What is this business about slow reading?” Miss Hanks asked. “I 
don’t understand it at all.” 

“Only the other day there was a child in the third grade who persisted 
in rapid reading,” Philoxenus said. “He was given an object lesson. He 
was given a book of medium difficulty, and he read it rapidly. Then he 
had to put the book away and repeat what he had read. Do you know that 
in the first thirty pages he missed four words? Midway in the book there 
was a whole statement which he had understood wrongly, and there were 

hundreds of pages that he got word-perfect only with difficulty. If he was 
so unsure on material that he had just read, think how imperfectly he 
would have recalled it forty years later.” 

“You mean that the Camiroi children learn to recall everything that 
they read?” 

“The Camiroi children and adults will recall for life every detail they 
have ever seen, read or heard. We on Camiroi are only a little more 
intelligent than you on Earth. We cannot afford to waste time in 
forgetting or reviewing or in pursuing anything of a shallowness that 
lends itself to scanning.” 

“Ah, would you call your schools liberal?” Mr. Piper asked. 

“I would. You wouldn’t,” said Philoxenus. “We do not on Camiroi, as 
you do on Earth, use words to mean their opposites. There is nothing in 
our education or on our world that corresponds to the quaint servility 
which you call liberal on Earth.” 

“Well, would you call your education progressive?” 

“No. In your argot, progressive, of course, means infantile.” 

“How are the schools financed?” asked Mr. Piper. 

“Oh the voluntary tithe on Camiroi takes care of everything, 
government, religion, education, public works. We don’t believe in taxes, 
of course, and we never maintain a high overhead in anything.” 

“Just how voluntary is the tithing?” asked Miss Hanks. “Do you 
sometimes hang those who do not tithe voluntarily?” 

“I believe there have been a few cases of that sort,” said Philoxenus. 

“And is your government really as slipshod as your education?” Mr. 
Piper asked. “Are your high officials really chosen by lot and for short 

“Oh yes. Can you imagine a person so sick that he would actually 
desire to hold high office for any great period of time? Are there any 
further questions?” 

“There must be hundreds,” said Mr. Piper, “But we find difficulty 
putting them into words.” 

“If you cannot find words for them, we cannot find answers. PTA 

CONCLUSION A: The Camiroi system of education is inferior to our 
own in organization, in buildings, in facilities, in playgrounds, in teacher 
conferences, in funding, in parental involvement, in supervision, in in- 

group out-group accommodation adjustment motifs. Some of the school 
buildings are grotesque. We asked about one particular building which 
seemed to us to be flamboyant and in bad taste. “What do you expect 
from second-grade children?” they said. “It is well built even if of peculiar 
appearance. Second-grade children are not yet complete artists of 

“You mean that the children designed it themselves?” we asked. 

“Of course,” they said. “Designed and built it. It isn’t a bad job for 

Such a thing wouldn’t be permitted on Earth. 

CONCLUSION B: The Camiroi system of education somehow 
produces much better results than does the education system of Earth. 
We have been forced to admit this by the evidence at hand. 

CONCLUSION C: There is an anomaly as yet unresolved between 
Conclusion A and Conclusion B. 



We give here, as perhaps of some interest, the curriculum of the 
Camiroi Primary Education. 


Playing one wind instrument 

Simple drawing of objects and numbers. 

Singing. (This is important Many Earth people sing who cannot sing. 
This early instruction of the Camiroi prevents that occurrence.) 

Simple arithmetic, hand and machine. 

First acrobatics. 

First riddles and logic. 

Mnemonic religion. 

First dancing. 

Walking the low wire. 

Simple electric circuits. 

Raising ants. (Eoempts, not Earth ants). 


Playing one keyboard instrument 

Drawing, faces, letters, motions. 

Singing comedies. 

Complex arithmetic, hand and machine. 

Second acrobatics. 

First jokes and logic. 

Quadratic religion. 

Second dancing. 

Simple defamation. (Spirited attacks on the character of one fellow 
student, with elementary falsification and simple hatchet-job 

Performing on the medium wire. 

Project electric wiring. 

Raising bees. (Galelea, not Earth bees.) 

Reading and voice. (It is here that the student who may have fallen 
into bad habits of rapid reading is compelled to read at voice speed only.) 
Soft stone sculpture. 

Situation comedy. 

Simple algebra, hand and machine. 

First gymnastics. 

Second jokes and logic. 

Transcendent religion. 

Complex acrobatic dancing. 

Complex defamation. 

Performing on the high wire and the sky pole. 

Simple radio construction. 

Raising, breeding and dissecting frogs. (Karakoh, not Earth frogs.) 

History reading, Camiroi and galactic, basic and geological. 

Decadent comedy. 

Simple geometry and trigonometry, hand and machine. 

Track and field. 

Shaggy people jokes and hirsute logic. 

Simple obscenity. 

Simple mysticism. 

Patterns of falsification. 

Trapeze work. 

Intermediate electronics. 

Human dissection. 


History reading, Camiroi and galactic, technological. 

Introverted drama. 

Complex geometries and analytics, hand and machine. 

Track and field for fifth form record. 

First wit and logic. 

First alcoholic appreciation. 

Complex mysticism. 

Setting intellectual climates, defamation in three dimensions. 

Simple Oratory. 

Complex trapeze work. 

Inorganic chemistry. 

Advanced electronics. 

Advanced human dissection. 

Fifth Form Thesis. 

The child is now ten years old and is half through his primary 
schooling. He is an unfinished animal, but he has learned to learn. 


Reemphasis on slow reading. 

Simple prodigious memory. 

History reading, Camiroi and galactic, economic. 

Horsemanship (of the Patrushkoe, not the Earth horse.) 

Advance lathe and machine work for art and utility. 

Literature, passive. 

Calculi, hand and machine pankration. 

Advanced wit and logic. 

Second alcoholic appreciation. 

Differential religion. 

First business ventures. 

Complex oratory. 

Building-scaling. (The buildings are higher and the gravity stronger 
than on Earth; this climbing of buildings like human flies calls out the 
ingenuity and daring of the Camiroi children.) 

Nuclear physics and post-organic chemistry. 

Simple pseudo-human assembly. 


History reading, Camiroi and galactic, cultural. 

Advanced prodigious memory. 

Vehicle operation and manufacture of simple vehicle. 

Literature, active. 

Astrognosy, prediction and programming. 

Advanced pankration. 

Spherical logic, hand and machine. 

Advanced alcoholic appreciation. 

Integral religion. 

Bankruptcy and recovery in business. 

Conmanship and trend creation. 

Post-nuclear physics and universals. 

Transcendental athletics endeavor. 

Complex robotics and programming. 


History reading, Camiroi and galactic, seminal theory. 

Consummate prodigious memory. 

Manufacture of complex land and water vehicles. 

Literature, compenduous and terminative. (Creative book-burning 
following the Camiroi thesis that nothing ordinary be allowed to survive.) 
Cosmic theory, seminal. 

Philosophy construction. 

Complex hedonism. 

Laser religion. 

Conmanship, seminal. 

Consolidation of simple genius status. 

Post-robotic integration. 


History reading, Camiroi and galactic, future and contingent. 

Category invention. 

Manufacture of complex light-barrier vehicles. 

Construction of simple asteroids and planets. 

Matrix religion and logic. 

Simple human immortality disciplines. 

Consolidation of complex genius status. 

First problems of post-consciousness humanity. 

First essays in marriage and reproduction. 


History construction, active. 

Manufacture of ultra-light-barrier vehicles. 

Panphilosophical clarifications. 

Construction of viable planets. 

Consolidation of simple sanctity status. 

Charismatic humor and pentacosmic logic. 

Hypogyroscopic economy. 

Penentaglossia. (The perfection of the fifty languages that every 
educated Camiroi must know including six Earthian languages. Of course 
the child will already have colloquial mastery of most of these, but he will 
not yet have them in their full depth.) 

Construction of complex societies. 

World government. (A course of the same name is sometimes given in 
Earthian schools, but the course is not of the same content. In this course 
the Camiroi student will govern a world, though not one of the first aspect 
worlds, for a period of three or four months.) 

Tenth form thesis. 


The child will now be fifteen years old and will have completed his 
primary education. In many ways he will be advanced beyond his Earth 
counterpart. Physically more sophisticated, the Camiroi child could kill 
with his hands an Earth-type tiger or a cape buffalo. An Earth child would 
perhaps be reluctant even to attempt such feats. The Camiroi boy (or girl) 
could replace any professional Earth athlete at any position of any game, 
and could surpass all existing Earth records. It is simply a question of 
finer poise, strength and speed, the result of adequate schooling. 

As to the arts (on which Earthlings sometimes place emphasis) the 
Camiroi child could produce easy and unequaled masterpieces in any 
medium. More important, he will have learned the relative unimportance 
of such pastimes. 

The Camiroi child will have failed in business once, at age ten, and 
have learned patience and perfection of objective by his failure. He will 
have acquired the techniques of falsification and conmanship. Thereafter 
he will not be easily deceived by any of the citizens of any of the worlds. 
The Camiroi child will have become a complex genius and a simple saint; 
the latter reduces the index of Camiroi crime to near zero. He will be 
married and settled in. those early years of greatest enjoyment. 

The child will have built, from materials found around any Camiroi 

house, a faster-than-light vehicle. He will have piloted it on a significant 
journey of his own plotting and programming. He will have built quasi¬ 
human robots of great intricacy. He will be of perfect memory and 
judgment and will be well prepared to accept solid learning. 

He will have learned to use his whole mind, for the vast reservoirs 
which are the unconscious to us are not unconscious to him. Everything 
in him is ordered for use. And there seems to be no great secret about the 
accomplishments) only to do everything slowly enough and in the right 
order: thus they avoid repetition and drill which are the shriveling things 
which dull the quick apperception. 

The Camiroi schedule is challenging to the children, but it is nowhere 
impossible or discouraging. Everything builds to what follows. For 
instance, the child is eleven years old before he is given post-nuclear 
physics and universals. Such subjects might be too difficult for him at an 
earlier age. He is thirteen years old before he undertakes category 
invention, that intricate course with the simple name. He is fourteen 
years old when he enters the dangerous field of panphilosophical 
clarification. But he will have been constructing comprehensive 
philosophies for two years, and he will have the background for the final 

We should look more closely at this other way of education. In some 
respects it is better than our own. Few Earth children would be able to 
construct an organic and sentient robot within fifteen minutes if given the 
test suddenly; most of them could not manufacture a living dog in that 
time. Not one Earth child in five could build a faster-than-light vehicle 
and travel it beyond our galaxy between now and midnight. Not one 
Earth child in a hundred could build a planet and have it a going concern 
within a week. Not one in a thousand would be able to comprehend 
pentacosmic logic. 


a. ) Kidnapping five Camiroi at random and constituting them a 
pilot Earth PTA. 

b. ) A little constructive book-burning, particularly in the 

education field. 

c. ) Judicious hanging of certain malingering students. 



Extract from the day book of Paul Piggott, political analyst: 

Making appointments with the Camiroi is proverbially like building 
with quicksilver. We discovered this early. But they do have the most 
advanced civilization of any of the four human worlds. And we did have a 
firm invitation to visit the planet Carnfroi and to investigate customs. 
And we had the promise that we would be taken in hand immediately on 
our arrival by a group parallel to our own. 

But there was no group to meet us at the Sky-Port. “Where is the 
Group for the Examination of Customs and Codexes?” we asked the girl 
who was on duty as Information Factor at the Sky-Port. 

“Ask that post over there,” she said. She was a young lady of 
mischievous and almost rakish mien. 

“I hope we are not reduced to talking to posts,” said our leader, 
Charles Chosky, “but I see that it is some sort of communicating device. 
Does the post talk English, young lady?” 

“The post understands the fifty languages that all Camiroi know,” the 
young lady said. “On Camiroi, even the dogs speak fifty languages. Speak 
to it.” 

“I’ll try it,” said Mr. Chosky. “Ah, post, we were to be taken in hand by 
a group parallel to our own. Where can we find the Group for the 
Examination of Customs and Codexes?” 

“Duty! Duty!” cried the post in a girlish voice that was somehow 
familiar. “Three for a group! Come, come, be constituted!” 

“I’ll be one,” said a pleasant-looking Camiroi, striding over. 

“I’ll be another,” said a teen-age sproutling boy of the same species. 

“One more, one more!” cried the post. “Oh, here comes my relief. I’ll 
be the other one to form the group. Come, come, let’s get started. What 
do you want to see first, good people?” 

“How can a post be a member of an ambulatory group?” Charles 
Chosky asked. 

“Oh, don’t be quaint,” said the girl who had been the information 

factor and also the voice of the post. She had come up behind us and 
joined us. “Sideki and Nautes, we become a group for cozening 
Earthlings,” she said. “I am sure you heard the rather humorous name 
they gave it.” 

“Are you as a group qualified to give us the information we seek?” I 

“Every citizen of Camiroi is qualified, in theory, to give sound 
information on every subject,” said the teen-age sproutling. 

“But in practice it may not be so,” I said, my legal mind fastening onto 
his phrase. 

“The only difficulty is our over-liberal admission to citizenship,” said 
Miss Diayggeia, who had been the voice of the post and the Information 
Factor. “Any person may become a citizen of Camiroi if he has resided 
here for one oodle. Once it was so that only natural leaders traveled 
space, and they qualified. Now, however, there are subsidized persons of 
no ability who come. They do not always conform to our high standard of 
reason and information.” 

“Thanks,” said our Miss Holly Holm, “and how long is an oodle?” 

“About fifteen minutes,” said Miss Dia. “The post will register you now 
if you wish.” 

The post registered us, and we became citizens of Camiroi. 

“Well, come, come, fellow citizens, what can we do for you?” asked 
Sideld, the pleasant-looking Camiroi who was the first member of our 
host group. 

“Our reports of the laws of Gamirci seem to be a mixture of travelers’ 
tales and nonsense,” I said. “We want to find how a Camiroi law is made 
and how it works.” 

“So, make one, citizens, and see how it works,” said Sideki. “You are 
now citizens like any other citizens, and any three of you can band 
together and make a law. Let us go down to Archives and enact it And you 
be thinking what sort of law it will be as we go there.” 

We strode through the contrived and beautiful parklands and groves 
which were the roofs of Camfroi City. The extent was full of fountains and 
waterfalls, and streams with bizarre bridges over them. Some were better 
than others. Some were better than anything we had ever seen anywhere. 

“But I believe that I myself could design a pond and weir as good as 
this one,” said Charles Chosky, our leader. “And I’d have some of those 

bushes that look like Earth sumac in place of that cluster there; and I’d 
break up that pattern of rocks and tilt the layered massif behind it, and 
bring in a little of that blue moss — ” 

“You see your duty quickly, citizen,” said Sideki. “You should do all 
this before this very day is gone. Make it the way you think best, and 
remove the plaque that is 

there. Then you can dictate your own plaque to any of the 
symbouleutik posts, and it will be made and set in. ‘My composition is 
better than your composition,’ is the way most plaques read, and 
sometimes a scenery composer will add something humorous like ‘and 
my dog can whip your dog.’ You can order all necessary materials from 
the same post there, and most citizens prefer to do the work with their 
own hands. This system works for gradual improvement. There are many 
Consensus Masterpieces that remain year after year; and the ordinary 
work is subject to constant turnover. There, for instance, is a tree which 
was not there this morning and which should not be there tonight. I’m 
sure that one of you can design a better tree.” 

“I can,” said Miss Holly, “and I will do so today.” We descended from 
the roof parklands in the lower streets of Camiroi City, and went to 

“Have you thought of a new law yet?” Miss Dia asked when we were at 
Archives. “We don’t expect brilliance from such new citizens, but we ask 
you not to be ridiculous.” 

Our leader, Charles Chosky, drew himself up to full height and spoke: 

“We promulgate a law that a permanent group be set up on Camiroi to 
oversee and devise regulations for all random and hasty citizens’ groups 
with the aim of making them more responsible, and that a fullscale 
review of such groups be held yearly.” 

“Got it?” Miss Dia called to an apparatus there in Archives. 

“Got it,” said the device. It ground its entrails and coughed up the law, 
inscribed on bronze, and set it in a law niche. 

“The echo is deafening,” said our Miss Holly, pretending to listen. 

“Yes. What is the effect of what we have done?” I asked. 

“Oh, the law is in effect,” said young Nautes. “It has been weighed and 
integrated into the corpus of laws, it is already considered in the 
instructions that the magistrate coming on duty in a short time (usually a 
citizen will serve as magistrate for one hour a month) must scan before he 

takes his seat. Possibly in this session he will assess somebody guilty of a 
misdemeanor to think about this problem for ten minutes and then to 
attach an enabling act to your law.” 

“But what if some citizens’ group passes a silly law?” our Miss Holly 

“They do it often. One of them has just done so. But it will be repealed 
quickly enough,” said Miss Dia of the Camiroi. “Any citizen who has his 
name on three laws deemed silly by general consensus shall lose his 
citizenship for one year. A citizen who so loses his citizenship twice shall 
be mutilated, and the third time he shall be killed. This isn’t an extreme 
ruling. By that time he would have participated in nine silly laws. Surely 
that’s enough.” 

“But, in the meantime, the silly laws remain in effect?” our Mr. 
Chosky asked. 

“Not likely,” said Sideki. “A law is repealed thus: any citizen may go to 
Archives and remove any law, leaving the statement that he has abolished 
the law for his own reasons. He is then required to keep the voided law in 
his own home for three days. Sometimes the citizen or citizens who first 
passed the law will go to the house of the abolitionist. Occasionally they 
will fight to the death with ritual swords, but most often they will; parley. 
They may agree to have the law abolished. They may agree to restore the 
law. Or they may together work out a new law that takes into account the 
objections to the old.” 

“Then every Camiroi law is subject to random challenge?” Chosky 

“Not exactly,” said Miss Dia. “A law which has stood unchallenged and 
unappealed for nine years becomes privileged. A citizen wishing to 
abolish such a law by removal must leave in its place not only his 
declaration of removal but also three fingers of his right hand as earnest 
of his seriousness in the matter. But a magistrate or a citizen going to 
reconstitute the law has to contribute only one of his fingers to the 

“This seems to me to favor the establishment,” I said. 

“We have none,” said Sideki. “I know that is hard or Earthlings to 

“But is there no senate or legislative body on Camiroi, or even a 
president?” Miss Holly asked. 

“Yes, there’s a president,” said Miss Dia, “and he is actually a dictator 
or tyrant. He is chosen by lot for a term of one week. Any of you could be 
chosen for the term starting tomorrow, but the odds are against it. We do 
not have a permanent senate, but often there are hasty senates 
constituted, and they have full powers.” 

“Such bodies having full powers is what we want to study,” I said. 
“When will the next one be constituted and how will it act?” 

“So, constitute yourselves one now and see how you act,” said young 
Nautes. “You simply say, ‘We constitute ourselves a Hasty Senate or 
Camiroi with full powers. Register yourselves at the nearest 
symnbouleutic post, and study your senate introspectively.” 

“Could we fire the president-dictator?” Miss Holly asked. 

“Certainly,” said Sideki, “but a new president would immediately be 
chosen by lot; and your senate would not carry over to the new term, nor 
could any of you three partake of a new senate until a full presidential 
term had passed. But I wouldn’t, if I were you, form a senate to fire the 
present president. He is very good with the ritual sword.” 

“Then citizens do actually fight with them yet?” Mr. Chosky asked. 

“Yes, any private citizen may at any time challenge any other private 
citizen for any reason, or for none. Sometimes, but not often, they fight to 
the death, and they may not be interfered with. We call these decisions 
the Court of Last Resort.” 

Reason says that the legal system on Camiroi cannot be as simple as 
this, and yet it seems to be. Starting with the thesis that every citizen of 
Camiroi should be able to handle every assignment or job on Camiroi, 
these people have cut organization to the minimum. These things we 
consider fluid or liberal about the legal system of Camiroi. Hereafter, 
whenever I am tempted to think of some law or custom of Earth as 
liberal, I will pause. I will hear Camiroi laughing. 

On the other hand, there are these things which I consider adamant or 
conservative about the laws of Camiroi: 

No assembly on Camiroi for purposes of entertainment may exceed 
thirty-nine persons. No more than this number may witness any 
spectacle or drama, or hear a musical presentation, or watch a sporting 
event. This is to prevent the citizens from becoming mere spectators 
rather than originators or partakers. Similarly, no writing — other than 
certain rare official promulgations — may be issued in more than thirty- 

nine copies in one month. This, it seems to us, is a conservative ruling to 
prevent popular enthusiasms. 

A father of a family who twice in five years appeals to specialists for 
such things as simple surgery for members of his household, or legal or 
financial or medical advice, or any such things as he himself should be 
capable of doing, shall lose his citizenship. It seems to us that this ruling 
obstructs the Camiroi from the full fruits of progress and research. They 
say, however, that it compels every citizen to become an expert in 

Any citizen who pleads incapacity when chosen by lot to head a 
military operation or a scientific project or a trade combine shall lose his 
citizenship and suffer mutilation. But one who assumes such 
responsibility, and then fails in the accomplishment of the task, shall 
suffer the loss and the mutilation only for two such failures. 

Both cases seem to us to constitute cruel and unusual punishment. 

Any citizen chosen by lot to provide a basic invention or display a 
certain ingenuity when there is corporate need for it, and who fails to 
provide such invention, shall be placed in such a position that he will lose 
his life unless he displays even greater ingenuity and invention than was 
originally called for. 

This seems to us to be unspeakably cruel. 

There is an absolute death penalty for impiety. But the question of 
what constitutes impiety, we received a startling answer: 

“If you have to ask what it is, then you are guilty of it. For piety is 
comprehension of the basic norms. Lack of awareness of the special 
Camiroi context is the greatest impiety of all. Beware, new citizens! 
Should a person more upright and less indulgent than myself have heard 
your question, you might be executed before nightrise.” 

The Camiroi, however, are straight-faced kidders. We do not believe 
that we were in any danger of execution, but we had been told bluntly not 
to ask questions of a certain sort. 

CONCLUSION: Inconclusive. We are not yet able to understand the 
true legal system of Camiroi, but we have begun to acquire the viewpoint 
from which it may be studied. We recommend continuing study by a 
permanent resident team in this field. 

— Paul Piggott, Political Analyst 

From the journey book of Charles Chosky, chief of field group: 

The basis of Camiroi polity and procedure is that any Camiroi citizen 
should be capable of filing any job on or pertaining to the planet. If it is 
ever the case that even one citizen should prove incapable of this, they 
say, then their system has already failed. 

“Of course, it fails many times every day,” one of their men explained 
to me’ “But it does not fail completely. It is like a man in motion. He is 
falling off-balance at every step, but he saves himself, and so he strides. 
Our polity is always in motion. Should it come to rest, it would die.” 

“Have the Camiroi a religion?” I asked citizen after citizen of them. 

“I think so,” one of them said finally. “I believe that we do have that, 
and nothing else. The difficulty is in the word. Your Earth English word 
may come from religionem or from relegionem; it may mean a legality,, 
or it may mean a revelation. I believe it is a mixture of the two concepts; 
with us it is, Of course we have a religion. What else is there to have?” 

“Could you draw a parallel between Camiroi and Earth religion?” I 
asked him. 

“No, I couldn’t,” he said bluntly. “I’m not being rude. I just don’t know 

But another intelligent Camiroi gave me some idea on it. 

“The closest I could come to explaining the difference,” he said, “is by 
a legend that is told (as our Camiroi phrase has it) with the tongue so far 
in the cheek that it comes out the vulgar body aperture.” 

“What is the legend?” I asked him. 

“The legend is that men (or whatever local creatures) were tested on 
all the worlds. On some of the worlds men persevered in grace. These 
have become the transcendent worlds, asserting themselves as stars 
rather planets and swallowing their own suns, becoming incandescent in 
their merged persons living in grace and light. The more developed of 
them are those closed bodies which we know only by inference, so 
powerful and contained that they let no light or gravity or other emission 
escape them. They become of themselves closed and total universes, of 
their own space and outside of what we call space, perfect in their merged 
mentality and spirit. 

“Then there are the worlds like Earth where men did fall from grace. 
On these worlds, each person contains an interior abyss and is capable 
both of great heights and depths. By our legend, the persons of these 
worlds, after their fall, were condemned to live for thirty thousand 

generations in the bodies of animals and were then permitted to begin 
their slow and frustrating ascent back to remembered personhood. 

“But the case of Camiroi was otherwise. We do not know whether 
there are further worlds of our like case. The primordial test-people of 
Camiroi did not fall. And they did not persevere. They hesitated. They 
could not make up their minds. They thought the matter over, and then 
they thought it over some more. Camiroi was therefore doomed to think 
matters over forever. 

“So we are the equivocal people, capable of curious and continuing 
thought. But we have a hunger both for the depths and the heights which 
we have missed. To be sure, our Golden Mediocrity, our serene plateau, is 
higher than the heights of most worlds, higher than those of Earth, I 
believe. But it has not the exhilaration of height.” 

“But you do not believe in legends,” I said. 

“A legend is the highest scientific statement when it is the only 
statement available,” the Camiroi said. “We are the people who live 
according to reason. It makes a good life, but it lacks salt. You people 
have a literature of Utopias. You value their ideals highly, and they do 
have some effect on you. Yet you must feel that they have this quality of 
the insipid. And according to Earth standards, we are a Utopia. We are a 
world of the third case. 

“We miss a lot. The enjoyment of poverty is generally denied to us. We 
have a certain hunger for incompetence, which is why some Earth things 
find a welcome here: bad Earth music, bad Earth painting and sculpture 
and drama, for instance. The good we can produce ourselves. The bad we 
are incapable of, and must import. Some of us believe that we need it in 
our diet.” 

“If this is true, your position seems enviable to me,” I said. 

“Yours isn’t,” he said, “and yet you are the most complete. You have 
both halves, and you have your numbers. We know, of course, that the 
Giver has never given a life anywhere until there was real need for it, and 
that everything born or created has its individual part to play. But we 
wish the Giver would be more generous to us in this, and it is in this 
particularly that we envy Earth. 

“A difficulty with us is that we do our great deeds at too young an age 
and on distant worlds. We are all of us more or less retired by the age of 
twenty-five, and we have all had careers such as you would not believe. 

We come home then to live maturely on our mature world. It’s perfect, of 
course, but of a perfection too small. We have everything — except the 
one thing that matters, for which we cannot even find a name.” 

I talked to many of the intelligent Camiroi on our short stay there. It 
was often difficult to tell whether they were talking seriously or whether 
they were mocking me. We do not as yet understand the Camiroi at all. 
Further study is recommended. 

— Charles Chosky 

Chief of Field Group 

From the ephemeris of Holly Holm, anthropologist and 

The word Camiroi is plural in form, is used for the people in both the 
single and plural and for the planet itself. 

The civilization of Camiroi is more mechanical and more scientific 
than that of Earth, but it is more disguised. Their ideal machine shall 
have no moving parts at all, shall be noiseless and shall not look like a 
machine. For this reason, there is something pastoral about even the 
most thickly populated districts of Camiroi City. 

The Camiroi are fortunate in the natural furnishings of their planet. 
The scenery of Camiroi conforms to the dictate that all repetition is 
tedious, for there is only one of each thing on that world. There is one 
major continent and one minor continent of quite different character; one 
fine cluster of islands of which the individual isles are of very different 
style; one great continental river with its seven branches flowing out of 
seven sorts of land; one complex of volcanoes; one great range of 
mountains; one titanic waterfall with her three so different daughters 
nearby; one inland sea, one gulf, one beach which is a three hundred and 
fifty mile crescent passing through seven phases named for the colors of 
iris; one great rain forest, one palm grove, one leaf-fail grove, one of 
evergreens and one of eodendrons; one grain bowl, one fruit bowl, one 
pampas; one parkland; one desert, one great oasis; and Camiroi City is 
the one great city. And all these places are unexcelled if their kind. 

There are no ordinary places on Camiroi! 

Travel being rapid, a comparatively poor young couple may go from 
anywhere on the planet to Green Beach, for instance, to take their 
evening meal, in less time than the consumption of the meal will take 
them, and for less money than that reasonable meal will cost. This easy 

and frequent travel makes the whole world one community. 

The Camiroi believe in the necessity of the frontier. They control 
many primitive worlds, and I gather hints that they are sometimes cruel 
in their management. The tyrants and proconsuls of these worlds are 
young, usually still in their teens. The young people are to have their 
careers and make their mistakes while in the foreign service. When they 
return to Camiroi they are supposed to be settled and of tested 
intelligence. The earning scale of the Camiroi is curious. A job of 
mechanical drudgery pays higher than one of intellectual Interest and 
involvement. This often means that the least intelligent and least able of 
the Camiroi will have more wealth than those of more ability. “This is 
fair,” the Camiroi tell us. “Those not able to receive the higher 
recompense are certainly entitled to the lower.” They regard the Earth 
system as grossly inequal, that a man should have both a superior job and 
superior pay, and that another man should have the inferior of both. 

Though official offices and jobs are usually filled by lot, yet persons 
can apply for them for their own reasons. In special conditions there 
might even be competition for an assignment, such as directorship of 
trade posts where persons (for private reasons) might wish to acquire 
great fortunes rapidly. We witnessed confrontations between candidates 
in several of these campaigns, and they were curious. 

“My opponent is a three and seven,” said one candidate, and then he 
sat down. 

“My opponent is a five and nine,” said the other candidate. The small 
crowd clapped, and that was the confrontation or debate. 

We attended another such rally. 

“My opponent is an eight and ten,” one candidate said briskly. 

“My opponent is a two and six,” said the other, and they went off 

We did not understand this, and we attended a third confrontation. 
There seemed to be a little wave of excitement about to break here. 

“My opponent is an old number four,” said one candidate with a voice 
charged with emotion, and there was a gasp from the small crowd. 

“I will not answer the charge,” said the other candidate shaking with 
anger. “The blow is too foul, and we had been friends.” 

We found the key then. The Camiroi are experts at defamation, but 
they have developed a shorthand system to save time. They have their 

decalogue of slander, and the numbers refer to this. In its accepted 
version it runs as follows: 

My opponent (1) is personally moronic. (2) is sexually incompetent. 
(3) flubs third points in Chuki game. (4) eats Mu seeds before the time of 
the summer solstice. (5) is physically pathetic. (7) is financially stupid. (8) 
is ethically weird. (9) is intellectually contemptible. (10) is morally 

Try it yourself, on your friends or your enemies! Works wonderfully. 
We recommend the listing and use to Earth politicians, except for 
numbers three and four which seem to have no meaning in Earth 

The Camiroi have a corpus of proverbs. We came on them in Archives, 
along with an attached machine with a hundred levers on it. We 
depressed the lever marked Earth English, and had a sampling of these 
proverbs put into Earth context. 

A man will not become rich by raising goats, the machine issued. Yes, 
that could almost pass for an Earth proverb. It almost seems to mean 

Even buzzards sometimes gag. That has an Earth 30und also. 

It’s that or pluck chickens. 

“I don’t believe I understand that one,” I said. 

“You think it’s easy to put these in Earth context, try it sometime,” the 
translation machine issued. “The proverb applies to distasteful but 
necessary tasks.” 

“Ah, well, let’s try some more,” said Paul Piggott. “That one.” 

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, the machine issued 

“But that is an Earth proverb word for word,” I said. 

“You wait until I finish it, lady,” the translation machine growled. “To 
this proverb in its classical form is always appended a cartoon showing a 
bird fluttering away and a man angrily wiping his hand with some 
disposable material while he says, “A bird in the hand is not worth two in 
the bush.” 

“Are we being had by a machine?” our Charles Chosky asked softly. 

“Give us that proverb there,” I pointed one out to the machine. 

There’ll be many a dry eye here when you leave, the machine issued. 

We left. 

“I may be in serious trouble,” I said to a Camiroi lady of my 
acquaintance, “Well, aren’t you going to ask me what it is?” 

“No, I don’t particularly care,” she said. “But tell me if you feel an 
absolute compulsion to it.” 

“I never heard of such a thing,” I said. “I have been chosen by lot to 
head a military expedition for the relief of a trapped force on a world I 
never heard of. I am supposed to raise and supply this force (out of my 
private funds, it says here) and have it in flight within eight oodles. That’s 
only two hours. What will I do?” 

“Do it, of course, Miss Holly,” the lady said. “You are a citizen of 
Camiroi now, and you should be proud to take charge of such an 

“But I don’t know how! What will happen if I just tell them that I don’t 
know how?” 

“Oh, you’ll lose your citizenship and suffer mutilation. That’s the law, 
you know.” 

“How will they mutilate me?” 

“Probably cut off your nose. I wouldn’t worry about it. It doesn’t do 
much for you anyhow.” 

“But we have to go back to Earth! We are going to go tomorrow, but 
now we want to go today. I do anyhow.” 

“Earth kid, if I were you, I’d get out to Sky-Port awful fast.” 

By a coincidence (I hope it was no more than that) our political 
analyst, Paul Piggott, had been chosen by lot to make a survey 
(personally, minutely and interiorly, the directive said) of the sewer 
system of Camiroi City. And our leader, Charles Chosky, had been 
selected by lot to put down a rebellion of Groll’s Trolls on one of the 
worlds, and to leave his right hand and his right eye as surety for the 
accomplishment of the mission. 

We were rather nervous as we waited for Earth Flight at Sky-Port, 
particularly so when a group of Camiroi acquaintances approached us. 
But they did not stop us. They said goodbye to us without too much 

“Our visit has been all too short,” I said hopefully. 

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” one of them rejoined. “There is a Camiroi 
proverb — ” 

“We’ve heard it,” said our leader, Charles Chosky. “We also are dry- 

eyed about leaving.” 

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: That another and broader field group 
be sent to study the Camiroi in greater detail. That a special study might 
fruitfully be made of the humor of the Camiroi. That no members of the 
first field group should serve on the second field group. 

— Holly Holm 


“I’m going to read my paper tonight, Dismas” Dr. Minden said, “and 
they’ll hoot me out of the hall. The thought of it almost makes the hair 
walk off my head.” 

“Oh well, serves you right, Minden. From the hints you’ve given me of 
it, you can’t expect easy acceptance for the paper; but the gentlemen 
aren’t so bad.” 

“Not bad? Hauser honks like a gander! That clattering laugh of 
Coldbeater! Snodden sniggers so loud that it echoes! Cooper’s boom is 
like barrels rolling downstairs, and your own — it’ll shrivel me, Dismas. 
Imagine the weirdest cacophony ever — Oh no! I wasn’t thinking of one 
so weird as that!” 

Musical screaming! Glorious gibbering with an under-tone that could 
shatter rocks! Hooting of a resonance plainly too deep for so small an 
instrument! Yowling, hoodoo laughing, broken roaring, rhinoceros 
runting! And the child came tumbling out of the tall rocks of Doolen’s 
Mountain, leaping down the flanks of the hill as though she was a 
waterfall. And both the men laughed 

“Your Ginny is the weirdest cacophony I can imagine, Dismas,” Dr. 
Minden said. “It scares me, and I love it. Your daughter is the most 
remarkable creature in the world. 

“Talk to us, Ginny! I wish I could fix it that you would be four years 
old forever.” 

“Oh, I’ve fixed it myself, Dr. Minden,” Ginny sang as she came to them 
with a movement that had something of the breathless grace of a gazelle 
and something of the scuttering of a little wild pig. “I use a trick like the 
hoodoo woman did. She ate water-puppy eggs. She never got any older, 
you know.” 

“What happened to her, Gin?” Dr. Minden asked Ginny Dismas. 

“Oh, after a while she got gray-headed and wrinkled. And after 
another while her teeth and hair fell out, and then she died. But she never 
did get any older. She had everybody fooled. I got everybody fooled too.” 

“I know that you have, Ginny, in very many ways. Well, have you 
eaten water-puppy eggs to get no older?” 

“No. I can’t find out where they lay them, Dr. Minden. I’ve got my own 
trick that’s even better.” 

“Do you know, Ginny, that when you really cut loose you are the 
loudest little girl in the world?” 

“I know it. I won it yesterday. Susanna Shonk said that she was the 
loudest. We hollered for an hour. Susanna’s home with a sore throat 
today, but there isn’t anything the matter with me. Hey, has that house 
ever been there before?” 

“That house? But it’s our own house, Ginny,” her father, Dr. Dismas, 
said softly. “You’ve lived in it all your life. You’re in and out of it a 
thousand times a day.” 

“I never saw it before,” Ginny said. “I better go see what it looks like 
on the inside.” And Ginny hurtled into the house that she was in and out 
of a thousand times a day. 

“I’ll tell you a secret, Dismas,” Dr. Minden said. “Your small daughter 
Ginny is not really beautiful.” 

“Everybody thinks that she is, Minden.” 

“I know. They all believe her the most beautiful child in the world. So 
did I till a moment ago. So will I again in minute when I see her come out 
of the house. But her contemporary, my small son Krios, told me how to 
look at her; and I do so. For an instant, out of her incessant movement, I 
forced myself to see her as stopped cold, at rest. She is grotesque, Dismas. 
If ever she pauses, she is grotesque.” 

“No, she is like ultimate matter. Existence and motion are the same 
thing for her, and there cannot be the one without the other. But I’ve 
never seen her stopped, even in sleep. She’s the liveliest sleeper anyone 
ever watched — a laughing and singing sleeper. Her mother calls her our 
beautiful goblin.” 

“Exactly, she’s a goblin, a monkey, a kobald. She’s even grown a little 
pot like one of them. Dismas, she has a monkey face and bandy legs and a 
goblin’s own pot.” 

“No, she hasn’t! There she goes! Out of the house and up into the 
rocks again, and she’s so beautiful that it shakes me. Four years old — 
and she can still look at the world and say, ‘Funny I never saw you 
before!’ Yes, I’ve got a multidimensional daughter, Minden. Also a 
neighbor who is either deep or murky. You keep feeding me snatches of 
that paper of yours so I suppose that you want to excite my curiosity 
about it. And the title — The Contingent Mutation. What is? Who is?” 

“We are, Dismas. We are contingent, conditional, temporary, 

makeshift and improbable in our species. Mine is a paper badly conceived 
and badly put together, and I shiver at the reception that it will get. But it 
is about man, who is also badly conceived and bad]y put together. The 
proposition of my paper is that man is descended, recently and by 
incredible mutation, from the most impossible of ancestors, 
Xauenanthropus or Xauen Man. The answer of that descent scares me.” 

“Minden, are you out of your mind? Where is the descent? Where is 
the mutation? The Xauens were already men. No descent and no 
mutation was required. The finds are all fifteen years old. One look at 
Xauen, and everybody saw instantly that the Neanderthals and Grimaldi 
and Cro-Magnon were all close cousins of the same species — ourselves. 
They were the template, the master key. They unriddled every riddle. We 
saw why the chin or lack of chin was only a racial characteristic. We saw it 
all. There is nothing to distinguish the Xauens from ourselves except that 
their adults were badly made ganglers, and probably unhealthy. The 
Xauens are modern men. They are ourselves. There is nothing 
revolutionary about stuttering out fifteen-year-old certainties, Minden. I 
thought your paper was to be a giant stride. But it is only stepping off a 
two-inch curb.” 

“Yes, an abysmal step off a two-inch curb, Dismas, backward and 
around the world, and standing on one’s head and turning into a howling 
monkey in the process. It isn’t a simple step. If I am correct, Dismas, then 
our descent from the Xauens was by an incredible, sudden and single 
mutation; one that has been mieunderstood both as to effect and 

“I’ve never been quite satisfied with the Xauens myself. There is 
something misshapen about the whole business. Of course we know the 
Xauens only by the skeletons of ninety-six children, three adolescents, 
and two adults. We are bound to find more.” 

“If we do, we will find them in the same proportion. Oh, we will not 
recognize them at all. But does it not seem an odd proportion to you? 
How come there were so many kids? And how come — think about this a 
long, long time, will you? — that eighty-six of those kids were of the some 
size and apparently of the same age? The Xauen skeletons came out of 
nine digs, close together both in location and age. And of the total of one 
hundred and one skeletons, eighty-six of them are of four-year-old kids, 
Sure the Xauens are modern man! Sure they are ourselves chin to chin. 

But eighty-six four-year-old kids out of a hundred and one people is not a 
modern proportion.” 

“You ex~ain it then, Minden. I suppose that your paper attempts to. 
Oh, scatter-boned ancestors! Here come the religious nuts!” 

Drs. Dismas and Minden had been sitting in the open parkland in 
campesino chairs, in their own fine neighborhood between Doolen’s 
Mountain and the lower brushland. Dr. Dismas drew a hog-nosed pistol 
from under his arm at the sight of the nuts who had shuffled up that way 
several times before. 

“Be off!” Dismas barked as the nuts crowded and shuffled up closer 
from the lower brushland. “There’s nothing around here you want. You’ve 
been here a dozen times with your silly questions. 

“No, only three times,” the nut leader said. He was clean-shaven and 
short-haired in the old manner still affected by fanatics, and he had fool 
written in every line of him. “It’s a simple thing we seek,” the leader 
sniffled. “We only want to find the woman and kill her. I believe that you 
could help us find the woman.” 

“There is no woman here except my wife!” Dr. Dismas said angrily. 
“You have said yourselves that she isn’t the woman. Be gone now, and 
don’t come back here again.” 

“But everything that we know tells us that the woman is somewhere 
near this place,” the nut leader insisted. “She is the woman who will bear 
the weird seed.” 

“Oh, well, there are some who say that my daughter Ginny is a weird 
seed. Be off now.” 

“We know Ginny. She comes down sometimes to mock us. Ginny is 
not the seed, but there is something of it about her. Ginny is born and 
already four years old. The seed that we are seeking to kill is still in the 
womb. Are you sure that your wife — ” 

“Damnit, do you want a public pregnancy test? No, my wife is not!” 

Dr. Dismas shot a couple of times around the feet of the nut leader, 
and the whole gaggle of the nuts shuffled off again. “It is only a little thing 
we seek, to find and kill the woman,” they snuffled as they went. 

“They may be right, Dismas,” Dr. Minden said. “I’ve been expecting 
the weird seed myself. I believe that it may already have appeared several 
times, and such nuts have killed it several times. The contingent mutation 
can come unhinged at any time. It always could. And when it does, the 

human world can well pass away. But this time they won’t be able to find 
the woman to kill her.” 

“This is fishier than Edward’s Ichthyology, as we used to say in school. 
I begin to understand why you’re afraid of the reception that your paper 
might get. And you, as well as I, seem to have developed a little weird 
seed lately.” 

“Yes, my young and my older son are both acting most peculiar lately, 
particularly in their relation to the Dismas family. My son Dali has been 
jilted by your daughter Agar, or is it the other way around? Or have they 
both been jilted by your small daughter Ginny? As far as I can arrive at it, 
Ginny told them that that sort of stuff is out, no longer necessary, not 
even wanted on their parts. She is obsoleting them, she says. 

“And my four-year-old son Krios is about out of his mind over your 
Ginny. He is so advanced in some ways and so retarded in others. It 
seems as though he grew unevenly and then stopped growing. I worry 
about him.” 

“Yes. Ginny has acquired several more small boyfriends now. She says 
that you break the fort with a big ram and you break the ram at the same 
time and throw it away. And then you find better tools to take it over. I 
don’t know what she’s talking about. But Krios is jealous as only a 
passionate four-year-old can be.” 

“Krios says that Ginny is bad and she made him bad. He says that he 
doesn’t know the words for the way they were bad, but that he will go to 
Hell for it.” 

“I had no idea that children were still taught about Hell.” 

“They aren’t. But they have either intuitive knowledge of the place, or 
a continuing childhood folk legend of it. Oh, here comes bad Ginny and 
her mother, and they both have that stubborn look on them. You have 
two strong women in your house, at least. I wish that Agar were; for my 
son Dali isn’t, and one of them should be.” 

Ginny and her mother Sally came hand in hand with the air of 
something needing to be settled. 

“I want to be fair about this, Father,” Ginny called solidly. “What I like 
about me is that I am always so fair.” 

“That’s also what I like about you, Ginny,” said Dr. Dismas, “and what 
is the argument?” 

“All I asked of Mother is that she make me three thousand seven 

hundred and eighty peanut butter sandwiches. Isn’t that a fair request?” 

“I’m not sure that it is, Ginny,” Dr. Dismas said. “It would take you a 
long time to eat that many.” 

“Of course it will, twelve hundred and sixty days. But that makes only 
three a day for the time I have to stay hidden in my nest up in the rocks. I 
figured that out by myself without paper. A lot of kids that have been to 
school already can’t figure as well as I can.” 

“I know. A precocious daughter is a mixed blessing,” her father said. 

“Oh, Ginny, you’re going to get a paddling,” her mother said. “I made 
you three of them, and you said that you weren’t even hungry for them.” 

“Father, who is this woman who talks to me so brusquely?” Ginny 

“She is your mother, Ginny. You have been with her every day of your 
life and before. You have just come out of the house with her, and you still 
stand hand in hand with her.” 

“Funny I never saw her before,” Ginny said. “I don’t believe that this 
woman is my mother at all. Well, I will get my servants to make the 
sandwiches for me. Serpents kill you, woman! — Oh, no, no, nobody 
touches me like that!” 

Musical screaming! Wailing of a resonance too deep for so small an 
instrument, as Ginny was dragged off by her mother to get paddled. 
Howling to high Heaven, and the plainting of wild hogs and damned 

“She is in good voice,” Dr. Minden said. “When she speaks of her 
servants, she means your daughter Agar and my son Dali. It scares me, 
for I almost know what she means. It is eerie that two compatible young 
people say they will not marry because a four-year-old child forbids them 
to do it. It scares me still more when I begin to understand the 
mechanism at work.” 

“What is the mechanism, Minden?” 

“The mutational inhibitions. It’s quite a tangled affair. Do you 
remember the Screaming Monkeys of boondocks Rhodesia twenty years 

“Vaguely. Bothersome little destructive monkeys that had to he 
hunted down and killed — hunted down by a sort of religious crusade, as 
I remember it. Yes, a mutation I suppose. A sudden wildness appearing in 
a species. What is the connection?” 

“Dismas, they were the first, the initial probe that failed. Others are 
on the way, and one of them will no fail. The story is that the religious 
crusaders said that no human child could be born while the howling 
monkeys flourished, for the monkeys themselves were human children. 
Well, they were. Well, no they weren’t children. And they weren’t human. 
But, in a way, they had been both. Or at least —” 

“Minden, do you know what you do mean?” 

“I hardly do, Dismas. Here come the ‘servants.’" 

Dali Minden and Agar Dismas drove up in a little roustabout car and 

“What is this nonsense I hear that you two are not going to get 
married?” Dr. Dismas demanded. 

“Not unless Ginny changes her mind, Father,” Agar said. “Oh, don’t 
ask us to explain it. We don’t understand it either.” 

“You are a pair of damned useless drones,” Dismas growled. 

“Don’t say that, Dismas,” Dr. Minden gasped. “Everything begins to 
scare me now. ‘Drones’ has a technical meaning in this case.” 

“Ginny has just suffered an ignominy past bearing,” Agar grinned. She 
was a nice pleasant girl. “Now she’s sulking in her cave up in Doolen’s 
Mountain and has sent word for us to come at once.” 

“How has she sent word?” Dr. Dismas demanded. “You two have just 
driven up.” 

“Oh, don’t ask us to explain, Father. She sends us word when she 
wants us. We don’t understand it either. Well go up on foot.” 

“Where is all this going to end?” Dr. Dismas asked when the two 
grinning young drones had left them and were ambling up the mountain. 

“I don’t know, Dismas,” Minden told him. “But I believe it may as well 
begin with a verse: 

Salamanders do it, 

Tadpoles and newts do it. 

Why can’t me and you do it? 

“It’s a verse that the four-year-olds have been chanting, and you may 
not be tuned in on them. And the peculiar thing is that the salamanders 
and newts and tadpoles are doing it now, more than ever before. It’s 
worldwide. See Higgleton’s recent paper if you don’t take my word for it.” 

“Oh, great blithering biologists! What are the squigglers doing more 

than ever before?” 

“Engaging in neotic reproduction, of course. In many pocket areas, 
tadpoles have been reproducing as tadpoles for several years now, and 
the adult frog species is disappearing. There have always been cases of it, 
of course, but now it is becoming a pattern. The same is true of the newts 
and salamanders. And remember that all three are like man, contingent 
mutations. But how do the four-year-old children know about it when it is 
still one of the best-kept secrets of the biologists?... Here comes my wife. 
Is it more family trouble, Clarinda?” 

“Oh, Krios has locked himself in the bathroom, and he won’t come out 
or answer. He’s been acting abominable all morning. Have you that 
emergency key you made?” 

“Here. Now get the boy out, whip him gently but painfully, then 
explain to him that we love him very much and that his troubles are our 
troubles. Then get dinner. This family here never eats, unless it is peanut 
butter sandwiches, and has not thought to ask me to dine with them. Get 
back next door and with it, Clarinda. and stop bubbling.” 

“There is something really bothering Krios,” Clarinda Minden bubbled 
yet, but she got herself back next door, 

“Where shall we take it up, Dismas?” Doctor Minden asked. “With the 
howling monkeys of boondocks Rhodesia who may once have been 
human children? But nobody believes that. With the neotic salamanders 
and newts and pollywogs? With the Xauens who were either our 
grandparents or our grandchildren? Or with ourselves?” 

“Roost on the Xauens a while,” Dr. Dismas said. “You didn’t quite 
finish your screed on them.” 

“Humans descend from the Xauens. Australopithecus, no. 
Sinanthropus, no. They were creatures of another line. But Neanderthal, 
Cro-Magnon, Grimaldi and ourselves are all of one species, and we 
descend from the Xauens. It is not true, however, that we have only one 
hundred and one skeletons of the Xauens. We have more than twenty 
thousand of them, but most of them are called ouezzane monkeys.” 

“Minden, you’re crazy.” 

“I am talking about the three-foot-tall, big-headed running monkeys 
who were mature and full grown at four years of age and very old at 
fourteen. They threw a few sports, steers and freemartins, who passed the 
puberty age without effect and continued to grow. They were gangling 

drones, servants of the active species, and of course sterile. They were the 
one in one hundred occurrence and of no importance. And one day they 
bred, set up a mutational inhibition against the normal; and mankind — 
the privileged mutation — was born. 

“The Onezzane monkeys, of whom the Xauens were the transitional 
state, were the same as the howling monkeys of boondocks Rhodesia — 
going in the other direction. They had no speech, they had no fire, and 
they made no tools. Then one morning they were the Xauens, and the 
next morning they were humans. They passed all the highly developed 
apes in an instant. They were the privileged mutation, which is not, I 
believe, permanent. 

“Dismas, the one hundred and one recognized Xauen skeletons that 
we possess are not of ninety-six children (eighty-six of them apparent 
four-year-olds), three adolescents and two adults. They are of ten infants 
and children, eighty-six adults, two mutants and three filial-twos. 

“Let’s take it from the flank. A few years ago, a biologist amused 
himself by making a table of heartbeat life lengths. All the mammals but 
one, he found, live about the same number of heartbeats, the longer- 
living species having correspondingly slower heartbeats. But one species, 
man, lives four or five times as long as he should by this criterion. I forget 
whether the biologist implied that this makes man a contingent species 
living on borrowed time. I do imply it. In any case, since the biologist was 
also involved in science fiction, his implications were not taken seriously. 

“From the other flank. Even before Freud there were studies made of 
false puberty, the sudden hot interest and activity that appears about age 
four and then goes away for another ten years. It’s been many times 
guessed that back in our ancestry our true puberty was at such an early 

“Minden, no species can change noticeably in less than fifty thousand 

“Dismas, it can change in between three and nine months, depending 
on the direction traveled. Here they come back! Well, drones, did you 
settle Ginny down? Where are you going now?” 

Agar Dismas and Dali Minden had sauntered down from Doolen’s 

“Were going to get four hundred and seventy-three loaves of bread 
and four hundred and seventy-three jars of peanut butter,” Agar said 

rather nervously. 

“Yes, Ginny says to use Crispy-Crusty bread,” Dali Minden detailed. 
“She says it has sixteen slices to a loaf, so we can make eight sandwiches 
to a loaf and to a jar. There will be four sandwiches left over, and Ginny 
says we can have them for our work. She’s going to stay in her cave for 
twelve hundred and sixty days. She says it will take that long to get her 
thing going good so nobody can bust it up. I think she’s a numerologist at 
heart. This is going to take more than four hundred dollars. That’s more 
than Agar and myself have saved up together. Ginny says to do it, though, 
even if we have to steal the money for it. And she says to be quick about 

“Here come the religious nuts again,” Doctor Dismas said. “I may have 
to kill one of the fools if they keep coming back.” 

“They won’t come here this time,” Agar said. “They’ll prowl Doolen’s 
Mountain from now on. They know it’ll be there. But I don’t think they’ll 
kill Ginny. They don’t understand what she is. They didn’t understand the 
first time either; they didn’t guess that it could possibly be one of the big 
ones. We are all hoping that they will kill me and be satisfied and think 
that they have done it. They will find me there where they think the 
woman should be, and that may fool them. Well, tootle! We have to hurry 
with everything or Ginny will be angry.” 

“No species can count itself secure that has not endured for ten 
million years,” said Dr. Minden. “We still hear that old saying that 
evolution is irreversible. Hogwatsh! I have myself studied seven species of 
hogs washed away before one endured. The human race is so new that it 
has no stability. The majority of species do not survive, and we have lived 
only one tenth of the span that would tilt the odds for survival in our 
favor. Even the species that finally survive will commonly revert several 
times before acquiring stability. We could revert at any time.” 

“Revert to what?” 

“To what we were, to what we still are basically, little three-foot-high, 
big-headed, howling monkeys, without tools, and with only a fifth of our 
present life span.” 

“Reversions are like cosmic disasters, Minden. They take a few 
thousand years to happen, and by that time we’ll be gone.” 

“No, this can happen instantly, Dismas, by a single neotic conception. 
And then it becomes the norm by the mechanics of mutational inhibition. 

The reversion will inhibit the old normal. We have already seen that 
inhibition at work.” 

The very stones crying out like demented rooks! Bushes barking like 
coyotes! Green-colored yowling, and laughter that sang like a band-saw. 
And Ginny was in the middle of them again. 

She was the howlingest kid ever pupped. 

“I don’t think that I will talk any more after today, Father,” she said 
solemnly after she had cut off her other noises. “I think I’ll just forget 
how. I’ll just holler and hoot and cary on. That’s more fun anyhow. 

“Why aren’t my servants back with my provisions? They’ve had almost 
time to get back if they did everything at breakneck speed and had good 
luck. They might have had to go to more than one place to get that much 
bread and peanut butter, though. I doubt if I’ll eat it. I just want to have it 
if I need it, and I wanted to teach them obedience. I’ll probably start to 
eat meadow mice and ground squirrels tomorrow. 

“Here comes Mrs. Minden crying over that Krios. What’s the good of 

There was a keening. Clarinda was running and crying, and Sally 
Dismas had rushed out of the house and met her. 

“Clarinda, what in the world has happened?” Dr. Minden cried, 
rushing to his tearful wife. 

“Our baby Krios has killed himself.” 

“I told him to,” said Ginny. “I’d gotten everything I wanted from him. 
I’ll find better ones for the other times.” 

“Ginny!” Her mother was horrified. “I’ll whip —” 

“Don”t punish the child, Sally,” Clarinda Minden said. “She’s beyond 
good and evil. Whatever was between her and my baby Krios, it’s better 
that I never know.” 

“Did I say something wrong?” Ginny asked. “The last thing I ever say, 
and it should be wrong? Dr. Minden, you know about things like that. 
What are you creatures, anyhow?” 

“People, Ginny,” Dr. Minden said miserably. 

“Funny I never saw any of you before. I sure don’t intend to get 
involved with people.” 

Raucous rowling! Hound-dog hooting! Hissing of badgers, and the 
clattering giggle of geese! Shag-tooth shouting and the roaring of baby 

And a screaming monkey leaped and tumbled up the rocks like crazy 


“Greeks and Armenians, Clem. Condors and buzzards.” 

“Samoyeds and Malemutes, Clem. Galena and molybdenite.” 

Oh here, here! What kind of talk is that? 

That is definitive talk. That is fundamental talk. There is no other kind 
of talk that will bring us to the core of this thing. 

Clem Clendenning was a traveling salesman, a good one. He had 
cleared $35,000 the previous year. Lie worked for a factory in a 
midwestern town. The plant produced a unique product, and Clem sold it 
over one-third of the nation. 

Things were going well with him. Then a little thing happened, and it 
changed his life completely. 

Salesmen have devices by which they check and double-check. One 
thing they do when stopping at hotels in distant towns; they make sure 
they’re registered. This sounds silly, but it isn’t. A salesman will get calls 
from his home office and it is important that the office be able to locate 
him. Whenever Clem registered at a hotel he would check back after 
several hours to be sure that they had him entered correctly. He would 
call in from somewhere, and he would ask for himself. And it sometimes 
did happen that he was told he was not registered. At this Clem would 
always raise a great noise to he sure that they had him straight thereafter. 

Arriving in a town this critical day, Clem had found himself 
ravenously hungry and tired to his depths. Both states were unusual to 
him. He went to a grill and ate gluttonously for an hour, so much so that 
people stared at him. He ate almost to the point of apoplexy. Then he 
taxied to the hotel, registered, and went up to his room at once. Later, not 
remembering whether he had even undressed or not (it was early 
afternoon), he threw himself onto the bed and slept, as it seemed, for 

But he noted that it was only a half hour later that he woke, feeling 
somehow deprived, as though having a great loss. He was floundering 
around altogether in a daze, and was once more possessed of an irrational 
hunger. He unpacked a little, put on a suit, and was surprised to find that 
it hung on him quite loosely. 

He went out with the feeling that he had left something on the bed 
that was not quite right, and yet he had been afraid to look. He found a 

hearty place and had another great meal. And then (at a different place so 
that people would not be puzzled at him) he had still another one. He was 
feeling better now, but mighty queer, mighty queer. 

Fearing that he might be taken seriously ill, he decided to check his 
bearings. He used his old trick. He found a phone and called his hotel and 
asked for himself. 

“We will check,” said the phone girl, and a little bit later she said, 
“Just a minute, he will be on the line in a minute.” 

“Oh, great green goat,” he growled, “I wonder how they have me 
mixed up this time.” 

And Clem was about to raise his voice unpleasantly to be sure that 
they got him straight, when a voice came onto the phone. 

This is the critical point. 

It was his own voice. 

The calling Clen Denning laughed first. And then he froze. It was no 
trick. It was no freak. There was no doubt that it was his own voice. Clem 
used the dictaphone a lot and he knew the sound of his own voice. 

And now he heard his own voice raised higher in all its unmistakable 
aspects, a great noise about open idiots who call on the phone and then 
stand silent without answering. 

“It’s me all right,” Clem grumbled silently to himself. “I sure do talk 
rough when I’m irritated.” 

There was a law against harassment by telephone, the voice on the 
phone said. By God, the voice on the phone said, he just noticed that his 
room had been rifled. He was having the call monitored right now, the 
voice on the phone swore. Clem knew that this was a lie, but he also 
recognized it as his own particular style of lying. The voice got really 
wooly and profane. 

Then there was a change in the tone. 

“Who are you?” the voice asked hollowly. “I hear you breathing 
scared. I know your sound. Gaaah — it’s me!” And the voice on the phone 
was also breathing scared. 

“There has to be an answer,” he told himself. “I’ll just go to my room 
and take a hot bath and try to sleep it off.” 

Then he roared back: “Go to my room! Am I crazy? I have just called 
my room. I am already there. I would not go to my room for one million 
one hundred and five thousand dollars.” 

He was trembling as though his bones were too loose for his flesh. It 
was funny that he had never before noticed how bony he was. But he 
wasn’t too scared to think straight on one subject, however crooked other 
things might be. 

“No, I wouldn’t go back to that room for any sum. But I will do 
something for another sum, and I’ll do it damned quick.” 

He ran, and he hasn’t stopped running yet. That he should have 
another self-made flesh terrified him. He ran, hut he knew where he was 
running for the first stage of it. He took the night plane back to his 
hometown, leaving bag and baggage behind. 

He was at the bank when it opened in the morning. He closed out all 
his accounts. He turned everything into cash. This took several hours. He 
walked out of there with $83,000. He didn’t feel like a thief; it was his 
own; it couldn’t have belonged to his other self, could it? If there were two 
of them, then let there be two sets of accounts. 

Now to get going fast. 

He continued to feel odd. He weighed himself. In spite of his great 
eating lately, he had lost a hundred pounds. That’s enough to make 
anyone feel odd. He went to New York City to lose himself in the crowd 
and to think about the matter. 

And what was the reaction at his firm and at his home when he turned 
up missing? That’s the second point. He didn’t turn up missing. As the 
months went by he followed the doings of his other self. He saw his 
pictures in the trade papers; he was still with the same firm he was still 
top salesman. He always got the hometown paper, and he sometimes 
found himself therein. He saw his own picture with his wife Veronica. She 
looked wonderful and so, he had to admit, did he. They were still on the 
edge of the social stuff. 

“If he’s me, I wonder who I am?” Clem continued to ask himself. 
There didn’t seem to be any answer to this. There wasn’t any handle to 
take the thing by. 

Clem went to an analyst and told his story. The analyst said that Clem 
had wanted to escape his job, or his wife Veronica, or both. Clem insisted 
that this was not so; he loved his job and his wife; he got deep and 
fulfilling satisfaction out of both. 

“You don’t know Veronica or you wouldn’t suggest it,” he told the 
analyst. “She is — ah — well, if you don’t know her, then hell, you don’t 

know anything.” 

The analyst told him that it had been his own id talking to him on the 

“How is it that my id is doing a top selling job out of a town five 
hundred miles from here, and I am here?” Clem wanted to know. “Other 
men’s ids aren’t so talented.” 

The analyst said that Clem was suffering from a tmema or diairetikos 
of an oddly named part of his psychic apparatus. 

“Oh hell, I’m an extrovert. Things like that don’t happen to people like 
me,” Clem said. 

Thereafter Clem tried to make the best of his compromised life. He 
was quickly well and back to normal weight. But he never talked on the 
telephone again in his life. He’d have died most literally if he ever heard 
his own voice like that again. He had no phone in any room where he 
lived. He wore a hearing aid which he did not need; he told people that he 
could not hear over the phone, and that any unlikely call that came for 
him would have to be taken down and relayed to him. 

He had to keep an eye on his other self, so he did renew one old 
contact. With one firm in New York there was a man he had called on 
regularly; this man had a cheerful and open mind that would not he 
spooked by the unusual. Clem began to meet this man (Why should we he 
about it? His name was Joe Zabotsky.) not at the firm; but at an after- 
hours place which he knew Joe frequented. 

Joe heard Clem’s story and believed it — after he had phoned (in 
Clem’s presence) the other Clem, located him a thousand miles away, and 
ordered an additional month’s supply of the unique product which they 
didn’t really need, things being a little slow in all lines right then. 

After that, Clem would get around to see Joe Zabotsky an average of 
once a month, about the time he figured the other Clem had just 
completed his monthly New York call. 

“He’s changing a little bit, and so are you,” Joe told Clem one evening. 
“Yeah, it was with him just about like with you. He did lose a lot of weight 
a while back, what you call the critical day, and he gained it back pretty 
quick just like you did. It bugs me, Clem, which of you I used to know. 
There are some old things between us that he recalls and you don’t; there 
are some that you recall and he doesn’t; and dammit there are some you 
both recall, and they happened between myself and one man only, not 

between myself and two men. 

“But these last few months your face seems to be getting a little fuller, 
and his a little thinner. You still look just alike, but not quite as just-alike 
as you did at first.” 

“I know it,” Clem said. “I study the analysts now since they don’t do 
any good at studying me, and I’ve learned an old analyst’s trick. I take an 
old face-on photo of myself, divide it down the center, and then complete 
each half with its mirror image. It gives two faces just a little bit different. 
Nobody has the two sides of his face quite alike. These two different faces 
are supposed to indicate two different aspects of the personality. I study 
myself, now, and I see that I am becoming more like one of the 
constructions; so he must be becoming more like the other construction. 
He mentions that there are disturbances between Veronica and himself, 
does he? And neither of them quite understands what is the matter? 
Neither do I.” 

Clem lived modestly, but he began to drink more than he had. He 
watched, through his intermediary Joe and by other means, the doings of 
his other self. And he waited. This was the most peculiar deal he had ever 
met, but he hadn’t been foxed on very many deals. 

“He’s no smarter than I am,” Clem insisted. “But, by cracky, if he’s me, 
he’s pretty smart at that. What would he do if he were in my place? And I 
guess, in a way, he is.” 

Following his avocation of drinking and brooding and waiting, Clem 
frequented various little places, and one day he was in the Two-Faced Bar 
and Grill. This was owned and operated by Two-Face Terrel, a 
doubledealer and gentleman, even something of a dandy. A man had just 
seated himself at a dim table with Clem, had been served by Two-Face, 
and now the man began to talk. 

“Why did Matthew have two donkeys?” the man asked. 

“Matthew who?” Clem asked. “I don’t know what you’re talking 

I’m talking about 21:1-9, of course,” the man said. The other Gospels 
have only one donkey. Did you ever think about that?” 

“No, I’d never given it a thought,” Clem said. 

“Well, tell me then, why does Matthew have two demoniacs?” 


“8:28-34. The other evangelists have only one crazy man.” 

“Maybe there was only one loony at first, and he drove the guy 
drinking next to him crazy.” 

“That’s possible. Oh, you’re kidding. But why does Matthew have two 
blind men?” 

“Number of a number, where does this happen?” Clem asked. 

“9:27-31, and again 20:29-34. In each case the other gospelers have 
only one blind man. Why does Matthew double so many things? There 
are other instances of it.” 

“Maybe he needed glasses,” Clem said. 

“No,” the man whispered, “I think he was one of us.” 

“What ‘us’ are you talking about?” Clem asked But already he had 
begun to suspect that his case was not unique. Suppose that it happened 
one time out of a million? There would still be several hundred such 
sundered persons in the country, and they would tend to congregate-in 
such places as the Two-Faced Bar and Grill. And there was something 
deprived or riven about almost every person who came into the place. 

And remember,” the man was continuing, “the name or cognomen of 
one of the other Apostles was ‘The Twin.’ But of whom was he twin? I 
think there was the beginning of a group of them there already.” 

“He wants to see you,” Joe Zabotsky told Clem when they met several 
months later. “So does she.” 

“When did he begin to suspect that there was another one of me?” 

“He knew something was wrong from the first. A man doesn’t lose a 
hundred pounds in an instant without there being something wrong. And 
he knew something was very wrong when all his accounts were cleaned 
out. These were not forgeries, and he knew it. They were not as good as 
good forgeries, for they were hurried and all different and very nervous. 
But they were all genuine signatures, he admitted that. Damn, you are a 
curious fellow, Clem!” 

“How much does Veronica know, and how? What does she want? 
What does he?” 

“He says that she also began to guess from the first. ‘You act like 
you’re only half a man, Clem,’ she would say to him, to you, that is. She 
wants to see more of her husband, she says, the other half. And he wants 
to trade places with you, at least from time to time on a trial basis.” 

“I won’t do it! Let him stew in it!” Then Clem called Clem a name so 
vile that it will not be given here. 

“Take it easy, Clem,” Joe remonstrated. “It’s yourself you are calling 

There was a quizzical young-old man who came sometimes into the 
Two-Faced Bar and Grill. They caught each other’s eye this day, and the 
young-old began to talk. 

“Is not consciousness the thing that divides man from the animals?” 
he asked. “But consciousness is a double thing, a seeing one’s self; not 
only a knowing, but a knowing that one knows. So the human person is of 
its essence double. How this is commonly worked out in practice, I don’t 
understand. Our present states are surely not the common thing.” 

“My own consciousness isn’t intensified since my person is doubled,” 
Clem said. “It’s all the other way. My consciousness is weakened. I’ve 
become a creature of my own unconscious. There’s something about you 
that I don’t like, man.” 

“The animal is simple and single,” the young-old man said “It lacks 
true reflexive consciousness. But man is dual (though I don’t understand 
the full meaning of it here) and he has at least intimations of true 
consciousness And what is the next step?” 

I fathom you now,” Clem said. “My father would have called you a 
Judas Priest.” 

I don’t quite call myself that. But what follows the singularity of the 
animal and duality of man? You recall the startling line of Chesterton? — 
‘we trinitarians have known it is not good for God to be alone.’ But was 
His case the same as ours? Did He do a violent double take, or triple take, 
when He discovered one day that there were Three of Him? Has He ever 
adjusted to it? Is it possible that He can?” 

“Aye, you’re a Judas Priest. I hate the species.” 

But I am not, Mr. Clendenning. I don’t understand this sundering any 
more than you do. It happens only one time in a million, but it has 
happened to us. Perhaps it would happen to God but one time in a billion 
billion, hut it has happened. The God who is may be much rarer than any 
you can imagine. 

“Let me explain: my other person is a very good man, much better 
than when we were conjoined. He’s a dean already, and he’ll be a bishop 
within five years. Whatever of doubt and skepticism that was in me 
originally is still in the me here present, and it is somehow intensified. I 
do not want to be dour or doubting. I do not want to speak mockingly of 

the great things. But the bothering things are all in the me here. The other 
me is freed of them. 

“Do you think that there might have a been a sundered-off Napoleon 
who was a bumbler at strategy and who was a nervous little coward? Did 
there remain in backwoods Kentucky for many years a sundered-off 
Lincoln who gave full rein to his inborn delight in the dirty story, the dirty 
deal, the barefoot life, the loutishness growing? Was there a sundered-off 
Augustine who turned ever more Manichean, who refined more and more 
his arts of false logic and fornication, who howled against reason, who 
joined the cultishness of the crowd? Is there an anti-Christ — the man 
who fled naked from the garden at dusk leaving his garment behind? We 
know that both do not keep the garment at the moment of sundering.” 

“Damned if I know, Judas Priest. Your own father-name abomination, 
was there another of him? Was he better or worse? I leave you.” 

“She is in town and is going to meet you tonight,” Joe Zabotsky told 
Clem at their next monthly meeting. “We’ve got it all set up.” 

“No, no, not Veronica!” Clem was startled. “I’m not ready for it.” 

“She is. She’s a strong-minded woman, and she knows what she 

“No she doesn’t, Joe. I’m afraid of it. I haven’t touched a woman since 

“Damn it, Clem, this is Veronica that we’re talking about. It isn’t as 
though you weren’t still married to her.” 

“I’m still afraid of it, Joe. I’ve become something unnatural now. 
Where am I supposed to meet her? Oh, oh you son of a snake! I can feel 
her presence. She was already in the place when 1 came in. No, no, 
Veronica, I’m not the proper one. It’s all a case of mistaken identity.” 

“It sure is, Clem Clam,” said the strong-minded Veronica as she came 
to their table. “Come along now. You’re going to have more explaining to 
do than any man I ever heard of.” 

But I can’t explain it, Veronica. I can’t explain any of it.” 

“You will try real hard, Clem. We both will. Thank you, Mr. Zabotsky, 
for your discretion in an odd situation.” 

Well, it went pretty well, so well in fact there had to be a catch to it. 
Veronica was an unusual and desirable woman, and Clem had missed 
her. They did the town mildly. They used to do it once a year, but they 
had been apart in their present persons for several years. And yet 

Veronica would want to revisit “that little place we were last year, oh, but 
that wasn’t you, was it, Clem? — that was Clem,” and that kind of talk was 

They dined grandly, and they talked intimately but nervously. There 
was real love between them, or among them, or around them somehow. 
They didn’t understand how it had turned grotesque. 

“He never quite forgave you for clearing out the accounts,” Veronica 

“But it was my money, Veronica,” Clem insisted. “I earned it by the 
sweat of my tongue and my brain. He had nothing to do with it.” 

“But you’re wrong, dear Clem. You worked equally for it when you 
were one. You should have taken only half of it.” 

They came back to Veronica’s hotel, and one of the clerks looked at 
Clem suspiciously. 

“Didn’t you just go up, and then come down, and then go up again?” 
he asked. 

“I have my ups and downs, but you may mean some thing else,” Clem 

“Now don’t be nervous, dear,” Veronica said. They were up in 
Veronica’s room now, and Clem was looking around very nervously. He 
had jumped at a mirror, not being sure that it was. 

“I am still your wife,” Veronica said, “and nothing has changed, except 
everything. I don’t know how, but I’m going to put things together again. 
You have to have missed me! Give now!” And she swept him off his feet as 
though he were a child. Clem had always loved her for her sudden 
strength. If you haven’t been up in Veronica’s arms, then you haven’t 
been anywhere. 

“Get your pumpkin-picking hands off my wife, you filthy oaf!” a voice 
cracked out like a bullwhip, and Veronica dropped Clem thuddingly from 
the surprise of it. 

“Oh, Clem!” she said with exasperation, “you shouldn’t have come 
here when I was with Clem. Now you’ve spoiled everything. You can’t be 
jealous of each other. You’re the same man. Let’s all pack up and go home 
and make the best of it. Let people talk if they want to.” 

“Well, I don’t know what to do,” Clem said. “This isn’t the way. There 
isn’t any way at all. Nothing can ever be right with us when we are three.” 

“There is a way,” Veronica said with sudden steel in her voice. “You 

boys will just have to get together again. I am laying down the law now. 
For a starter each of you lose a hundred pounds. I give you a month for it. 
You’re both on bread and water from now on. No, come to think of it, no 
bread! No water either; that may be fattening, too. You’re both on 
nothing for a month.” 

“We won’t do it,” both Clems said. “It’d kill us.” 

“Let it kill you then,” Veronica said. “You’re no good to me the way 
you are. You’ll lose the weight. I think that will be the trigger action. Then 
we will all go back to Rock Island or whatever town that was and get the 
same hotel room where one of you rose in a daze and left the other one 
unconscious on the bed. We will recreate those circumstances and see if 
you two can’t get together again.” 

“Veronica,” Clem said, “it is physically and biologically impossible.” 

“Also topologically absurd.” 

“You should have thought of that when you came apart. All you have 
to do now is get together again. Do it! I’m laying down an ultimatum. 
There’s no other way. You two will just have to get together again.” 

“There is another way,” Clem said in a voice so sharp that it scared 
both Veronica and Clem. 

“What? What is it?” they asked him. 

“Veronica, you’ve got to divide,” Clem said. “You’ve got to come 

“Oh, no. No!” 

“Now you put on a hundred pounds just as fast as you can, Veronica. 
Clem,” Clem said, “go get a dozen steaks up here for her to start on. And 
about thirty pounds of bone meal, whatever that is. It sounds like it might 

“I’ll do it, I’ll do it,” Clem cried, “and a couple of gallons of blood- 
pudding. Hey, I wonder where I can get that much blood-pudding this 
time of night?” 

“Boys, are you serious? Do you think it’ll work?” Veronica gasped. “I’ll 
try anything. How do I start?” 

“Think divisive thoughts,” Clem shouted as he started out for the 
steaks and bone meal and blood-pudding. 

“I don’t know any,” Veronica said. “Oh, yes I do! I’ll think them. We’ll 
do everything! We’ll make it work.” 

“You have a lot going for you, Veronica,” Clem said. “You’ve always 

been a double-dealer. And your own mother always said that you were 

“Oh, I know it, I know it! We’ll do everything. We’ll make it work. 
We’ll leave no stone unthrown.” 

“You’ve got to become a pair, Veronica,” Clem said at one of their 
sessions. “Think of pairs.” 

“Crocodiles and alligators, Clem,” she said, “frogs and toads. Eels and 

“Horses and asses, Veronica,” Clem said, “elk and moose. Rabbits and 

“Mushrooms and toadstools, Veronica,” Clem said. “Mosses and 
lichens. Butterflies and moths.” 

“Camels and dromedaries, Clem,” Veronica said. “Salamanders and 
newts, dragonfly and damselfly.” 

Say, they thought about pairs by the long ton. They thought every kind 
of sundering and divisive thought. They plumbed the depths of 
psychology and biology, and called in some of the most respected quacks 
of the city for advice. 

No people ever tried anything harder. Veronica and Clem and Clem 
did everything they could think of. They gave it a month. “I’ll do it or 
bust,” Veronica said. 

And they came close, so close that you could feel it. Veronica weighed 
up a hundred pounds well within the month, and then coasted in on 
double brandies. It was done all hut the final thing. 

Pay homage to her, people! She was a valiant woman! They both said 
that about her after it was over with. 

They would admire her as long as they lived. She had given it 

“I’ll do it or bust,” she had said. 

And after they had gathered her remains together and buried her, it 
left a gap in their lives, in Clem’s more than in Clem’s, since Clem had 
already been deprived of her for these last several years. 

And a special honor they paid her. 

They set two headstones on her grave. One of them said ‘Veronica.’ 
And the other one said ‘Veronica.’ 

She’d have liked that. 



The old Galaxy maps (imitating early Earth maps, partly in humor 
and partly through intuition) pictured strong creatures in the far arms of 
the system — Serpents bigger than Spaceships, Ganymede-type Tigers, 
fish-tailed Maids, grand Dolphins, and Island-sized Androids. We think 
particularly of the wry masterpieces of Grobin. And at the end of the Far 
or Seventh arm of the Galaxy is shown the Ultimate Creature. 

The Ultimate Creature had the form of a Woman, and it bore three 
signs in Chaldee: The Sign of Treasure; the Sign of the Fish Mashur (the 
queerest fish of them all); and the Sign of Restitution or of Floating 

Floating Justice is the ethical equivalent of the Isostasis of the 
Geologists. It states in principle that every unbalance will be brought into 
new balance, sometimes gently, sometimes as by planet-quake; that the 
most submerged may be elevated, by a great sundering of strata, to the 
highest point, if such is required for compensation. And there is a final 
tenet of this Floating Justice, that some day, somewhere, the meanest 
man of all the worlds will possess the ultimate treasure of the worlds. 
Without this promise, the worlds would be out of balance forever. 

The meanest man of all the worlds was Peter Feeney — a low-down 
sniveler, a weak man. In one thing only he was exceptional — he had the 
finest eye for beauty in a woman of any man anywhere: this, though of all 
men he was the least successful with women. His purity of appraisal was 
not dulled by close contact or possession. His judgments of beauty were 
sound and uncompromised, though sometimes bitter. 

And really, how many beautiful women are there in the Universe? 


Only six? Are you sure? All that noise has been about only six of 

Pete Feeney was sure. His rapid eyes — the only rapid things about 
him — had scanned millions of women in his random travels. And only 
six of the women could be called beautiful. 

There was the lady on Mellionella, seen only once in a crowd, followed 
and lost, and never seen again in a year’s search. 

There was the girl in a small town on East Continent of Hokey Planet. 

And this girl there was something that caused agony to Peter: he had 
heard her speak; she spoke like a girl in a small town on East Continent of 
Hokey Planet. He prayed that she might be struck dumb; knowing that it 
was an evil prayer, knowing that she was one of the really beautiful ones, 
whatever the sound of her. 

There was the girl of shallow virtue on Leucite. She was perfect. What 
else can you say after that? 

There was the mother of six on Camiroi — no longer young, of no 
particular repose or station or ease, hurried, impatient, and quite likely 
the most beautiful woman who ever lived. 

On Trader Planet there was a young Jewess of bewildering kindness 
and frankness and of inextricably entangled life. 

In San Juan, on old Earth, there was a fine creature who conbined the 
three main ethnic strains of old mankind. Peter made a second journey 
there to see her; after first vision and departure he had not been able to 
believe what he had seen. 

Six in all the worlds? Somehow there should have been more beautiful 
women than that. 

Then Peter saw Teresa. 

And she made the seventh? 

No. She made the first. The six faded. There was only one. The most 
beautiful woman ever, in the farthest arm of the Galaxy — the Ultimate 


This was on Groll’s Planet. To get there, said the agent in Electrum, 
you go to the end of the Galaxy, and turn left. It was a shabby little world 
in the boondocks that are beyond the boondocks, and only shabby people 
came there. 

Peter Feeney was a salesman of a Universe-wide product. He wasn’t a 
good salesman. He was shuffled off to poorer and poorer territories. Now 
he had fallen to the poorest territory of all. 

And on that day on Groll’s Planet, he beard a sound as though a swish 
of silk had passed over him, a thread, a mesh. It was the invisible net. 

“Oh how strange are the Fish of Far Ocean!” an ancient poet 

Peter had seen Teresa, and it was all over with him. 

Peter was eating that day by peculiar arrangement. It was the smallest 
of the towns of Groll’s Planet and there was no public eating place there. 
But a Grollian man raked clean sand and set a mat for Peter to sit on, and 
served him a meal there on a crate or box. The man also gave him coffee 
— good coffee, but not like the coffee you know. 

It was very like a sidewalk-cafe. It was in the way where people came 
and went, though not properly a sidewalk. Teresa came and sat down 
opposite Peter on the raked sand. 

“Hari bagus,” Peter said, which is all the words that a man needs to 
get along in the Grollian language. 

“Bagus,” said Teresa. And that is all that they said to each other that 

Peter finished his meal and attempted to light a cigar. The cigars of 
that world are not factory made. They are rolled by hand of an oblong leaf 
for the flier and a triangular leaf for the wrapper. Often they will keep 
their form for an hour or more, but Peter had made his cigar badly and it 
was not stable. 

Now it exploded into an unmanageable disarray of leaves and pieces, 
and Peter was unable to cope with it. Teresa took the pieces and rolled 
and folded them into a green cylinder that was sheer art. She licked it 
with the most beautiful tongue in the world and gave the reconstituted 
cigar to Peter. 

Then it was luxurious to sit there in the green shade and smoke 
opposite the most beautiful woman ever. When he had finished, Peter 

rose awkwardly and left. But he was pleased. 

He watched from a distance. Teresa with quick competence ate up all 
that he had left. “She was very hungry,” Peter said, and admired her 
quickness about things. She rose with flowing grace, retrieved the 
smoldering remnants of Peter’s cigar, and went toward the beach, trailing 
smoke from the green-leaf stogie and moving like a queen. 

The next day Peter again sat on the mat on the raked sand and ate the 
food that the Grollian man sold him. Once more he felt the swish of the 
invisible net over him, and again Teresa sat opposite him on the sand. 

“A senhora tern grande beleze,” said Peter, which is all the words that 
a man needs to get along in the Galactic Brazilian language. 

“Noa em nossos dias,” said Teresa, “porem outrora.” And that is all 
that they said to each other that day. 

But he had told her that she was beautiful. And she had answered: No, 
she was not so now, but in a former time she had been. 

When he had finished the meal and pulled the cigar from his pocket 
he was pleased when it exploded into its constituent parts. Teresa rescued 
it, reassembled it, and licked it. Her tongue had a tripart curve in it, more 
extensible, more flexible, more beautiful than other tongues. Then Peter 
rose and left as he had the day before. And again Teresa cleaned up the 
remnants — ravenously and beautifully. He watched her till she finally 
went toward the beach haloed in blue smoke from the stub of the cigar. 

Peter wrote up an order that day. It was not a good order, not 
sufficient to pay expenses, but something. Groll’s Planet had acquired a 
glow for him, just as if it was a good order he had written up. 

On the third day, Peter again sat on the mat that was very like a 
sidewalk-cafe, and Teresa was opposite him. Peter told the Grollian man 
that he should also bring food for the woman. He brought it, but angrily. 

“You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen,” said Peter, 
which is all the words that a man needs to get along in the English 

“I have told you that I am not now beautiful, but that once I was,” 
Teresa told him. “Through the grace of God, I may again regain my lost 

“How is it that you know English?” 

“I was the school-teach.” 

“And now?” 

“Now it goes bad for our world. There is no longer schools. I am 

“What are you, girl? Old human? Groll’s Troll? That isn’t possible. 

“Who can say? A book-man has said that the biology of our planet 
goes from the odd to the incredible. Was that not nice thing to say about 
us? My father was old human, a traveling man, a bum.” 

“And your mother?” 

“A queer fish, mama. Of this world, though.” 

“And you were once even more beautiful than you are now, Teresa? 
How could you have looked?” “How I looked then? As in English — Wow! 
— a colloquialism.” “To me you are perfect.” 

“No. I am a poor wasted bird now. But once I was beautiful.” 

“There must be some livelihood for you. what did your father do?” 

“Outside of bum, he was fisherman.” 

“Then why do you not fish?” 

“In my own way, I fish.” Peter heard again the swish of the invisible 
net, but he was very willing to be taken by it. After this, things went 
famously between them. 

But two days later there came a shame to Peter. He and Teresa were 
sitting and eating together on the mat, and the Grollian man came out. 

“Are you near finished?” he asked Peter. 

“Yes, I am near finished. Why do you ask?” 

“Are you finished with the fork yet?” 

“No, not quite finished with it.” 

“I must have the fork,” the Grollian man said. “There is another 
human man here, of the better sort. I must have the fork for him to eat 

“Have you but one?” 

“Am I a millionaire that I should have a multiplicity of forks in my 
house? He is a man with an important look, and I will not have him wait.” 

“This is humiliating,” said Peter. 

“I don’t know what that is. I want my fork.” 

Peter gave the fork back to the Grollian man, and that man took it in 
and set it before the human man of the better sort as a sign of the 
modernity of his house. 

“Were I not the meanest and weakest of men, he would not have 

abused me so,” Peter said. 

“Do you not feel it at all,” Teresa said. “Somebody has to be the 
meanest and the weakest. The worlds are full of humiliating things. This 
brings us close together.” 

This would have to be the final day for Peter Feeney on Groll’s Planet. 
Re had already garnered all the insufficient orders possible for his 
product. He walked with Teresa and said the difficult things. 

“When you have caught one, Teresa, you must do something with it. 
Even turn it loose if you do not mean to keep it.” “Do you want I should 
turn you loose, Peter?” 

“No. I want you to go with me on the ship when it goes tonight.” 

“There is only one way I will go.” 

“I have never thought of any other way.” 

“You will never have cause to be ashamed of me, Peter. I can dress, 
where I have the means for it. I can play the lady, I understand how it is 
done. I have even learned to walk in shoes. Were we in some more lucky 
place, it might be that I would regain my beauty. It is the grinding hard 
times that took it from me. I would change your luck. I have the 
languages, and the sense of things, and I am much more intelligent than 
you are, With me, you could attain a degree of success in even your 
miserable trade. It can be a good life we make.” 

There is a sound when the invisible net is cast over one. There is 
another sound when it is pulled in — the faint clicking of the floats, the 
tugging whisper of the weights, the squeaking of the lines when pulled 
taut. Teresa was a fisherman’s daughter, and she knew how to do it. The 
Peter-fish was not a large nor a fat one, but she knew that he was the best 
she could take in these waters. 

They were married. They left in the ship for a happier place, a better 
planet in a more amenable location where Teresa might regain her lost 

Floating Justice was achieved. All inequities were compensated. The 
meanest and weakest man in the universe now possessed the Ultimate 
Treasure of the universe. 

Naturally they were happy. And naturally their happiness endured. 

“There wasn’t a catch to it?” you ask out of a crooked face. “There is 
always a catch to it. It always goes sour at the end.” 

No. There was not a catch to it. It was perfect, and forever. It is only in 

perverted fables that things go wrong at the end. 

They grew in understanding of each other, received the glad news of 
coming progeny, waxed (by former standards) in wealth, and were no 
longer mean and inconsequential. Only one man can be married to the 
most beautiful woman in the universe, and it passes all understanding 
that that one man should be Peter feeney. 

This was perfection. It wasn’t just that Teresa had regained her 
“former beauty” and now weighed well over two hundred pounds. Peter 
liked that part of it. 

But is it possible for perfection to become too perfect? 


For this was perfection. They lived on a kindred but larger and better 
world, one of richer resources and even more varied biology. They had a 
love so many-sided and deep that there is no accounting for it, and 
children so rare and different! 

Floating Justice had been achieved. The least man in all the worlds 
did possess the Ultimate Creature. The balance was consummated. But 
Floating Justice had a grin on his face; there is something a little fishy 
about anything, even justice, that floats. You understand that there wasn’t 
really a catch to this, nor any deficiency. It was rather a richness almost 
beyond handling. It was still better for Peter Feeney than for anyone else 
anywhere. That must be understood. 

But, for all that, there was a small adjustment after the great 
compensation; a proportion must be re-established in all things, even 
happiness. It was the joke that the old Interior Ocean always cast up, and 
it must be taken in the salty humor that is intended. 

Children so rare and so different — and so many of them! No couple 
was ever so blessed as were Peter and Teresa with a rich variety of 
children. Some of them were playing and leaping in the hills and rocks 
behind Peter, and some of them were sporting in the Ocean before him. 

Peter whistled some of these sea children up now as he pondered 
things in the marina. Some of them broke water, splashed, and waved to 
him. So many of the kids there were, and such good ones! 

“Whistle about four of them to come in for dinner!” Teresa called, and 
Peter did so. It had been an odd business about the children, not 
unpleasant certainly, but not what he had expected either. And even yet, 
every possibility was still open to them. 

“I’d like to have a people-kid sometime,” Teresa said. “After all, mama 
had me. A people kid have fun playing with the fish kids, and they like 
him, too. And he could climb in the rocks with the Groll’s Trolls. He 
would sort of knit our family together. You think about it, Peter, and I 
think about it too, and we see what we come up with at the next milting 

Peter Feeny gazed out at his children in the pools of the sea, and at his 
other sort of children climbing in the rocks, and he felt an uneasy pride in 
them all. One comes quickly to love Fish Kids and Groll’s Trolls when 
they are the product of one’s own loins. There was ever hope, there would 

ever be hope to the last, of children of Peter’s own kind. But he loved his 
present progeny not the less for it. The four kids that he had whistled in 
came now. 

“Oh, four such pretty kids of ours!” Teresa said. “Fry them, Peter.” 

And Peter took the pretty fish kids that came from the water and 
began to fix them for the pan. 

This had taken the longest to get used to. But when you have so many 
of them — more than ten thousand, and more coming all the time — and 
when they are so good; and when, moreover, they are already flesh of 
your flesh. 

Peter Feeney fixed the fish kids for the pan. And out of his fullness 
and mingled emotions, salt tears rolled down his shining face to the salt 


He was the mayor of Big Island. Giuseppe Juan Sehiome O’Hanlon 
was his name, John the mayor, a shining black man. He was born into a 
political family and was given the names to please as many groups as 
possible. He had once been of imposing appearance and quiet dignity. He 
was not now. He shrilled and keened and moaned, and sometimes he was 

It was his leg that hurt him, and his soul. 

His leg hurt him because of the pin clear through it, the pin that was 
part of the shackle. This shackle could not be unlocked mechanically. It 
was a psychic-coded lock on the shackle, and it could only be released 
when John had somehow fulfilled his job and obtained his own release. 
The shackle bound his leg not only to his desk but also to a steel 
stanchion that was part of the steel frame of the building. 

John’s soul hurt him because Big Island was no longer the great 
thing to which he had been devoted. It had never been so in his lifetime. 
It was neo-jungle now, probably the most savage of them all. Even now 
there were fires burning on the floor above him and on the floor below 
him. There were always fires burning somewhere in the building, in every 
building that still had anything that would burn There were rats in the 
room, in every room, but perhaps John saw more of them than were 
there. He lived in perpetual delirium. 

There were (he knew, though he could no longer go out and see) 
people unburied in the streets, people knifed down hourly, people crazy 
and empty-eyed or glitter-eyed. There were horrible hom-music and git- 
fiddle music and jangle shouting; and he prisoner for life in his own 
office. This was not to be a great administrator of a great city. The 
emphasis had somehow shifted. But he had loved the city and the island, 
or the memory of them. And this hurt his soul. 

“You have to stay on the job and run the place for the rest of your life,” 
Commissioner Kreger had told John the mayor just before the 
commissioner had cut and run for it. “There will, of course, be no more 
elections. The burlesque that brought you in was enough to end the 
process. It was fiasco.” 

“It was not,” John the mayor moaned in pain. “It was high triumph, 
the man of the people called to head the people, a noble thing, the climax 

and sole goal of my life. I won it finally. They can’t take that away from 

“How does it taste, John?” 

“I’m dying, do not taunt me. What went wrong?” 

“It went wrong a hundred years before you were born, John. You lived 
all your life in a dream, and you had better try to re-enter it. You’re here 
for good. You’re the ultimate patsy, John.” 

“I’ll kill myself.” 

“No, you will not. You were allowed to this job because by 
temperament and religion, the residue of your dream, you were incapable 
of suicide. So many of our mayors have taken that easy way out! It was a 
nuisance, John.” 

“I’ll go crazy then,” John the mayor moaned. 

“No, you likely will not do that either, though it would not matter if 
you did. You are already psychotic, of course, but you will not go off much 
further. Stay and suffer, kid. You have no choice.” 

“Kreger, isn’t there some way we can get shet of this whole island? Sell 
it, transfer title to it, give it back to someone? Can’t we get out from 

“You find a way, John. Those things that we once thought of as 
abstractions have taken a direct hand now, Final Responsibility, Ultimate 
Justice, things like that. They must be satisfied. Whatever you do will 
have to satisfy the psychic-coded lock on your shackles to give you 
release. Sell the island legal, if you can find someone to sell it to. Transfer 
it, if you can find someone to accept the transfer. But it must be for Fair 
Value or Value Justified or Original Value from Original Entailment. The 
psychic-code thing will know. It’s governed by the Equity Factor.” 

Then Commissioner Kreger left John the mayor, left the island, and 
went to rich fishing in other troubled (but not completely polluted) 
waters. There was no more profit for that smart man to shake out of the 

That had been two years ago, and John the mayor had been the only 
official on the island since that time, His only contacts with the world 
were the sharp noises and smells that came in through his broken 
windows, and the visits of five feudal or wrangle leaders, the Duke, the 
Sky, the Wideman, the Cloud, and the Lob. 

Duke Durango was as smooth a gutter-fighter as ever came to the top 

of his heap, a happy fellow. Lawrence Sky was a fair white man named for 
the color of his big icy-blue eyes, a shambling giant, a giggling killer. 
Wideman Wyle was a wide man indeed, a cheerful sadist who told really 
funny stories and was the most pleasant person in the group. Cloud 
Clinkenbeard was a dour and stormy fellow, mean and relentless, and 
always in search of dirty novelty. Lolo Loudermilk was a girl, sort of a girl, 
a flaming mixed creature full of vitality and noise. 

They were the mayor’s only contacts. They were the leaders of one of 
the gangs that had endured, when the ten thousand gangs had eaten each 
other up and declined to a hundred. 

All five of them came into the mayor’s office, eating noisily. 

“Food train in!” announced the Duke. “We killed just one of the 
drivers. They say there’ll never be another train in if we kill more than 
one driver at a time. And we had to give up four hostages for it. Isn’t four 
too many, John?” 

“Numbers have no meaning in this evil thing,” said John the mayor. 
How many hostages have you left?” 

“Twenty,” and a few more, I think. We don’t all count the same when 
we get to the big numbers. But I think four is too many to give for a food 
train. What will happen when we run out of hostages? Who’ll give the big 
damn to subscribe a train for us then, when we have no more important 
people to trade to the important people off-island? Here, sign this, limp- 
leg John, and the Cloud will take it back to them.” 

The mayor read the release and signed it. Each of the five feudal 
leaders looked it over in turn then. Several of them could read a little (it 
was for this reason that they were the mayor’s contacts), and it would he 
hard for Mayor John to write anything phony on that release and slip it 
past them. The mayor had to sign these releases every time a food train 
came, and he knew what would happen when they ran out of hostages. 
The blackmail would be over when the last hostage of value or affection to 
someone off-island had been turned over for a food train. The off-island 
people would let the island rot. The trains had been the only food source 
for the island for years. 

The Cloud took the release and went out through the smouldering 
corridor and into the broken streets to the food train that came once a 
month through the last not-completely broken tunnel. 

“Something else came on the food trail, gimpy John,” the Duke said 


“Well, what, what was it? Duke, Duke, you didn’t get hold of a saw so I 
could saw my leg off, did you?” 

“Nah. You’re not supposed to saw your leg off. You’re supposed to stay 
here just like you are. Who’s going to sign for the food trains and hostage 
transfers if our mayor saws his leg off and runs away? 

“John Mayor, there’s three other men came on that food train. These 
are funny men. They might even be important enough men that we can 
hold them for hostages. They brought some heavy kegs and boxes with 
them, John, and they even conned some of the colts into carrying them 
over here for them. We can’t figure out what kind of men they are, Mayor. 
They look at us and we look at them, and we both got sparks in our eyes. 
They are in the building now, Mayor, and they want to see you.” 

“Show them in, spook Duke, the mayor is always available to his 

“Constituents these are not,” said the Lob. “They are washed-out pale 
fellows, but they are solid.” 

“And one of those kegs of theirs got a smell I like, Mayor,” said the 
Sky. “I believe I remember that smell like it was born in me. You get that 
keg, Mayor.” 

“And those long crates got a heft I like,” said the Wideman. “I almost 
know what will be in those crates. You get those crates, Mayor.” 

“Those square boxes got a feel I like,” said the Lob. “I almost know 
what short-handled things will be in those square boxes. And the smallest 
package has a brass glint through a rip in it. You get those square boxes 
and that smallest package, Mayor.” 

“I don’t understand this at all,” said John the mayor, rolling his red- 
rimmed eves in his constant pain. “Let the men and their baggage come 

The three new men who came in had a certain animal power about 
them, and a certain human authority. Possibly they might he important 
enough to hold for hostages, but who was going to take the lead in 
holding them? Men, they moved like big cats. But they were dressed like 
businessmen of an earlier decade, an anomaly on the island, and they 
were lighter than any of the islanders there except Lawrence Sky. 

“You are the Mayor Johnjohn?” asked one of the new men. “And you 
have authority to deal?” 

“I am the mayor,” said John, “and I have such authority as a shackled 
prisoner may have, For what do we deal?” 

“Oh, for the island. We’ve come to buy it. You’d like that, wouldn’t 

“What, what, who are you?” 

“I am Adrian Sweetsong,” said the first of the new men. “I’m a 
petroleum geologist by profession, which has nothing to do with the 
matter. And I’m an official of the Midlands Gun and Rod Club.” 

“I’m Dennis Halftown,” said the second of the new men. “I’m an 
electronic engineer by profession, which has nothing to do with the 
matter either. And I’m also an official of the Midlands Gun and Rod 

“I’m Freddy Flatfish,” said the third of the new men. “I’m a lawyer, 
which does have something to do with this matter. I am also an official of 
the Midlands Gun and Rod Club, and I have studied the legal aspects of 
this thing pretty thoroughly.” 

“Is it the Midlands Gun and Rod Club that is dealing for the island?” 
Mayor John asked. 

“That’s right,” said Adrian Sweetsong, the first of the new men. “First 
installment! Set em right there, boys.” 

Several of the colts, the strong rough island boys, set down two heavy 
square boxes, and Dennis Halftown (the second of the new men) broke 
them open with a 

“Man-eating Millie! Those things are for me!” the Lob gasped, and she 
had a couple of them out in her hands. 

“Sweet little choppies!” the Sky drooled. “What’s a knife along side of 
one of those?” 

“Black-berry pudding!” cried the Cloud as he returned from his 
errand. “Here, here, they look good, let’s get them tested. I’ll just pass a 
dozen of those out the windows to some of the boys. Let them try them 
out! Let them fall in love with them!” 

“Fifty hatchets,” announced Adrian Sweetsong, “delivered and 
accepted. We record them.” 

“Wait! Wait!” howled Mayor John jangling his shackles. “What have 
fifty hatchets to do with dealing for the island? Who has used hatchets for 
a century?” 

“One-leg John,” the Duke crooned, “too bad your shackles won’t let 

you get as far as the window. Some of the boys are using them now. 
Believe me, John, they’re using them now!” 

“Mr. Sweetsong,” Mayor John explained patiently, “the last valuation 
of island property ever made set it at over a hundred billion dollars. Due 
to certain developments, it may be down a little now, but not that far. 
Hatchets will not get it. I can sell it only for Fair Value or Value Justified. 
My own shackling is governed by the Equity Factor.” 

“We know that, Mr. Mayor,” said Freddy Flatfish, the lawyer for the 
Midlands Gun and Rod Club. Freddy Flatfish was a tow-headed, 
twinkling man. “But the island has reverted. It’s really worthless since it 
was left to the ten thousand gangs, which have since devoured themselves 
down to a hundred. Perhaps its reverted value is now its original value. 
Anyhow, the first approach was yours.” 

“Mine? Mine? I made no approach. I never heard of you fellows,” the 
Mayor said. 

“But we have monitored you, Mayor John. Two years ago you said to 
the commissioner ‘Can’t we give it back to someone?’ And you are also 
recorded as saying ‘We ought to sell it back to — 

“Second installment!” announced Adrian Sweetsong. “Set them right 
there, boys.” 

Several of the colts set down the long crates, and Dennis Halftown 
broken them open with his pry-bar. 

“Oh, those long sweet songs!” the Wideman slavered. “Smooth bores! 
You can jam them with any kind of soup at all and pan-light them. You 
can shoot broken glass with them. You can shoot anything. Here, we’ll 
just hand a few of them out the windows and let the fellows try them out. 
Get the heft of those things! Even as clubs your hands would fall in love 
with them! Blunderbusses!” And the Wideman handed half a dozen of 
them out the windows. 

“Twenty guns,” announced Adrian Sweetsong. “Delivered and 
accepted. We record them.” 

“Even if it were possible for me to deal the island for things of no 
value,” John the mayor began — and there was deep-throated roaring and 
death-screaming in the streets — 

“No value, Mayor?” the Duke Durango asked with deep irony. “Mayor, 
you should be able to watch them. They jam them with soup, and then 
ram in glass and nails for a load. They spark them off, and it’s wonderful. 

Cuts people right in two. Don’t talk no value about those things!” 

“Even if it were possible for me to deal the island for such things, what 
could the Midlands Gun and Rod Club possibly do with the island?” 
Mayor John asked. “Set up a hunting preserve,” Adrian Sweetsong said. 
“It’s a nicely stocked jungle island seventeen miles by four. We’ll hunt. 
We’ll hunt.” 

“Hunt? What would you hunt?” the mayor wanted to know. 

“Big game, big game,” said Dennis Halftown lovingly. 

“But there is no big game, no game at all on the island,” the mayor 

“Remember what ancient Hemingway wrote,” said Freddy Flatfish. 
“‘There is no sport equal to the hunting of an armed man.’ Ah, we’ll hunt 
them here, as will many of our well-heeled members.” 

“Third installment! Set it right there, boys,” Adrian Sweetsong 

The ragged island boys set down the bag, and Dennis Halftown broke 
it open with his pry-bar. 

“Boys, boys, that’s the smell like was born in me!” the Sky chortled, 
and he had his arms up to the elbows in the dark grainy powder. “Sure it 
hasn’t the power of soup. Sure it’s clumsy and crude. But it’s the grandpa 
of them all! The smell of it, the smell of it! Men, men, bust your noses on 
that smell!” 

“Twenty-five kilograms of gun-powder,” announced Adrian 
Sweetsong. “That’s as close as we could figure it. Twenty-five kilos 
delivered and accepted. We record it.” 

“When you going to start, fellows, when you going to start?” the Duke 
asked the three new men in excitement, getting the idea. “How soon you 
he ready to start?” asked the Duke and the Sky and the Wideman and the 
Cloud and the Lob, all going for it avidly. 

“Should he the first bunch of hunters here in the morning,” said 
Adrian Sweetsong. 

“Too long to wait,” the Lob protested. “You three? How about you?. 

“We three will begin stalking and pot-shotting in a very few minutes,” 
said the Adrian, “just as soon as we can get title to this place from the 
reluctant mayor. We suggest you deploy your forces outside in the 
corridors. When we come out of this room we will come out rough, and 
it’s rough animals we want to meet with.” 

“Rough it will be,” said the Cloud. “Colts, colts, you carry this stuff out 
to our place again just as soon as they have recorded it. Men, we will have 
some sport! We will show these sports some sport!” 

“But this cannot be, even in a nightmare,” Mayor John protested. 
“You three pale-browns are not Wappingers or Manahattas, and we are 
not Dutch.” 

“I’m a Choctaw,” said Freddy Flatfish. “Dennis Halftown is a Shawnee. 
Adrian Sweetsong is an Osage. But we inherit. I have drawn up a legal 
brief to prove it. And you are double-Dutch if you don’t accept. Awk, blew 
half my shoulder off! Those animals are jumping the gun. Now I know 
how the expression started. They really know how to handle those 

Freddy Flatfish had been shot by a blunderbuss blast from the 
corridor and was bleeding badly. So they hurried it along, anxious to close 
the bargain and get the hunting season started. 

“Bring them in fast, boys. Set them down till they are accepted and 
recorded. Then take them out again to your place,” Adrian Sweetsong 
ordered. And the rough colts brought in a variety of boxes and packages. 

“Ten shirts, accepted and recorded,” Adrian Sweetsong announced, 
hurriedly now. “Thirty pair socks, accepted and recorded. One hundred 
bullets, accepted and recorded. Forty kettles, accepted and recorded. One 
brass frying-pan, accepted and recorded.” 

And at the recording of the brass frying-pan, the leg-piercing pin was 
withdrawn from the leg of Mayor John and all his shackles fell off. The 
psychic-coded lock of his shackles had opened. He had finished his job 
and was released. He had disposed of the island in equity. He had gotten 
Fair Value for it, or Value Justified, or at least Original Value from 
Original Entailment. And it sufficed. 

Mayor John was free. He started to run from the room, fell down on 
his crippled leg, and arose and ran once more. And was caught in a 
blunderbuss blast. 

And then the great hunt began. The three members of the Midlands 
Gun and Rod Club had most sophisticated weapons. They were canny and 
smooth. This was the dangerous big-game hunt they had always dreamed 
of. And their prey were armed and wild and truculent and joyous. 

It would be good. 

Out between the orbs, several tentacles of Ultimate Justice came near 

together. “Was there not somewhere the mention of twenty-four or 
twenty-six dollars paid?” one tentacle asked the other. “I thought I 
remembered some such figure.” 

“No, no,” said the other tentacle, “That was only the estimated value 
placed on the material. There was no specie paid. The list is correct as 
rendered, and the repayment has been accepted and certified.” 

In a forgotten and half-filled basement on the island, two of the 
remaining old-folk people were still in hiding. They were startled by the 
new sort of noise. 

“What is it, papa? What have they done?” the old woman asked. 

“Sold it back to the Indians, mama,” the old man said. 

“Why have they not thought of that a long time ago?” 


There were four bids, and there should have been only three. Only 
three firms in the country were capable of making so miniaturized a 
control station. 

Three bids were in quite heavy packets. The fourth was in I slim 
envelope. This was Opening INV-3MINCON3999. 

“Ah, here are the bids from Micro Machinists Amalgamated, from 
Intensive Instrumentation, and from DOW-MEC-TEC,” said Colonel 
Ludenschiager. “It isn’t likely that any of them will be less than two years, 
and we need it within two weeks. We are whipped before we start!” He 
struck the table with a ringing thud. “But what is the anomalous 
intrusion, the small envelope bid, Dinneen?” 

“It’s from an M. M. McGruder,” said Colonel Dinneen. “The secend M 
is in quotation marks. We may have a case for the prosecution here. The 
Joker Act was set up for just such stuff as this. There has to be a ceiling 
put on cranks.” 

“There was a certain McGruder in Manhattan when I was a boy,” 
Colonel Schacbmeister smiled. “I spent many pleasant moments in his, 
ah, Hippodrome, I believe he called it. It was a narrow place off a narrow 
cigar store, and only about three could get in at one time, if they were 
small, and we were. Best show I over saw for a dim , though. What is the 
address of this one?” 

“Here in D. C.,” said Dinneen. “It would be a rundown address even 
without the ending ‘Apt. 3, room 4-E, use cellar steps off small alley.’ 
Some address! And the phone number of the Rowdy-Dow Bar and Grill is 
given. It’s written in an old and probably insane hand. We will prosecute 
with compassion, possibly.” 

The chime chimed for 9:30. It was opening time. And they opened the 

They quickly made the basic resume: 

1. Micro Machinists Amalgamated. Basic Module: $2,106,740.00. 
Estimated Time: 25 months. Exceptions and Alternatives: 256 (detailed). 
Follow-Up Units: $260,000.00 ea. Estimated Time: 30 days each for first 
6, grading down to 21 days each for additional. 

2. Intensive Instrumentation. Basic Module: $2,004,000.00. 
Estimated Time: 721 days. Exceptions and Alternatives: 228 (detailed). 

The Follow-Up Units: $248,000.00 ea. Estimated Time: 28 days each for 
first 4,19 days each for additional. 

3. Dow-Mec-Tech. Basic Module: $1,999,999.98. Estimated Time: 23 
months. Exceptions and Alternatives: 204 (detailed). Follow-up Units: 
$235,000.00 ea. Estimated Time: 21 days each for first 9, 16 days each 
for additional. 

4. M.’M.’ McGruder. Basic Module: $24.00. Estimated Time: 24 
hours. Exceptions and Alternatives: none (undetailed). Follow-Up Units: 
$24 ea. Estimated Time: 24 hours each — “this keeps going on time: as 
long as I live or as long as you buy them, whichever is first. Note: Got one 
made already. Come try it. I need the $24.00. 1 don’t see how anybody 
can make them cheaper than this.” 

“We run into the impossible,” said Ludenschiager sadly. “We need one 
within two weeks or we may as well forget the program. And if we forget 
the program, we may as we forget everything. It is not for personal 
aggrandizement that we seek this (except for Dinneen a little), but for the 
good of our country and the world. There has to be a way out of this 

“How about McGruder?” Schachmeister laughed sourly.l 

“Oh, we’ll prosecute him under the Joker Act, of course,” 
Lodenschlager growled, “but now we have the taller thing to tackle. We 
have to find the way. Two years will be too late; we’ll be done for by then. 
Two weeks will almost be too late. We must somehow break the time 
barrier in this.” 

“We’re whipped, we’re whipped!” Dinneen wailed, “and our enemies 
will rejoice over us.” He turned on three toes and strode gloomily out of 
the room. 

“The Covenant,” it said. “Large, hard-roasted, de-oiled, white peanuts 
under the Goober John trade name. Three a day, and they must be 
Goober John Number Ones. Failure to provide them will void the 

“There will be no failure,” said Malcomb ‘the Marvelous’ McGruder. 
“It shall be done.” 

“We like-stuff pledge fulfill the Covenant,’ it said. 

The micro-miniatureized control station, the “bullet brain”, had to 
handle thirteen data flows at once. It had to do other things, including the 
monitoring and inhibiting of the world. It must be practially 

indestructible. And it had to be about the size of an eraser on a pencil. 
This small size was of the greatest importance. 

The smallest model of this which would handle such data properly 
was about a cubic meter, and it weighed a thousand kilgrams. And it was 
itself a miniaturization. 

The project is still classified, so we cannot in conscience give deep 
details of it. The project is still active, and perhans an answer can be 
found for it this second time. Ah well, we lost the first race, and the most 
populous one-third of our nation; but we lost it hard. We had them near 
beaten for a little while tehre. Another year, and DOW-MEC-TEC will 
have their first module ready. It will probably be far too late, it will likely 
do no good at all, but you never know. The slimmest hope remains... 

But now they were looking very hard for that answer the first time: the 
three colonels, the High Commision of the colonels, the potential saviors 
of their country and the world. It was not for person glory they sought 
this (except Dinneen a little) but for the ultimate good of the ultimate 

Colonel Dinneen strode up and down endless corridors, booming like 
a canary in his odd voice. He didn’t want the thing in two years, he 
wanted it in two minutes, right now. 

Colonel Ludenshclager shuffled old brain-buster notes looking for a 
miracle. He had an impediment there; he didn’t believe in miracles. 

Colonel Schachmeister walked desolately through the city, praying for 
the instant miniaturized control station. He walked and walked; but 
where did he walk? 

“It is my unconscious leading me somewhere,” he mumbled. “And I 
will floow my unconscious wherever it leads, like a man in a dream.” 

That Schachmeister was an unconscious phony. It wasn’t his 
unconscious leading him anywhere! It was his conniving own self walking 
furtively where his own dishonesty would not allow him to walk openly. 
And he had that address graven on his brain by a micro-stylus. 

There was something about a three-foot-wide Hippodrome from his 
boyhood; there was something of the credence in the incredible; and both 
these things were shameful to him as a man of science, and a colonel 

Well, it was a shabby enough neighborhood. The alley was worse, and 
yet even this was not the final alley. He found it then, the “small alley”, 

hardly a skunk track. He followed it. He knocked crunchingly on a door 
and near lost his hand in the termite-eaten wood. 

“Be careful there!” an ancient voice blatted out like slats falling down 
in an old bed. “Those are friends of my own people, and my people will 
not have them discommoded. After all, they are quiet, they do no harm, 
and they eat only wood.” 

“It — it’s the same McGruder! It is Malcomb ‘the Marvelous’ 
McGruder himself, the Grand Master of McGruder’s Marvels!” Colonel 
Schachmeister detonated in wonder. 

“Oh sure, little boy,” came the wonderful foice like an old organ filling 
with noise again and blowing the dust off itself in doing so. “And it’s the 
same little Heinie Schachmeister! Why aren’t you in school today, 
Heinie? Oh, I notice that you have grown, and perhaps yhou are too old 
for school now.” 

“It’s marvelous to see you again, Marvelous!” Schachmeister breathed 
in awe. “I had no idea that you wree the same one, or that you were still 

“Come in, little Heinie. And what are you doing? I have never seen 
your name in the Flea-Bag, so I suppose you have failed in your early 

“Ah, McGruder, I don’t know what the Flea-Bag is, and I forget what 
early ambition of mine you refer to.” 

“The Flea-Bag, Heinie, is a mimeographed sheet that still circulates 
among the members of our dwindling profession. And your early 
ambition was to grow up and have fleas of your own.” 

“Wish I had done it, McGruder, wish I had done it, especially on days 
like this. Some of my happiest hours were spent watching McGruder’s 
Marvels, that greatest of all Flea Circuses, in that little hole in the wall.” 

“In the Hippodrome, you mean, Heinie? Do you remember the 
Coachman Set?” 

“Yes, yes, and the flea up on the coachman’s seat, in livery, and with 
the whip! McGruder, when you screwed the three sections of the 
microscope together, you could see the very braiding of that coachman’s 
whip. And the flea in harnass! The harnass was perfect, and had little 
bells on it. The bells had clappers, and you could hear them jingle when 
you screwed that little thing into your ear. And the flea in harnass was 
shod, with real horse-shoes, or flea-shoes.” 

“More, Heinie, more! The shoes had authentic calks on them, and 
nails! And the nails were of no ordinary sort, but were ancient horseshoe 
nails with the oblong wedge-shaped heard. You could see that when you 
screwed the fourth section into the microscope. And you remember the 
lady fleas inside the coach, Heinie?” 

“Yes, yes, dressed in old Empire style with the high hair on them, and 
the flounce stuff. And when you screwed the little hting into your nose 
you could smell their perfume. What was it, McGruder?” 

“Printemps. And you may not know it, but there were eight petticoats 
on each of those lady fleas, and the microscopic lace on even the inmost 
of them was done with loving care and suprassing detail, more than the 
nine hundred loops on the bottom round in the style that is called punto a 
groppo. Your eyes used to boggle at my little things, little Heinie.” 

“My mind boggles at something now. That was forty years ago. 
McGruder, I know you were good, but this passes reason! Yopu still have 
your little lathes and turners and instruments here, but you did not make 
a miniaturized control station with such!” 

“Of course not, Heinie. The detailign for the little control station had 
to be a thousand times finer, actually eight thousand times finer, than 
anything I could do on my little lathes. I’m surprised you could ask such a 
silly question, Heinie.” 

“Is that the control station there, Marvelous?” 

“That’s it, Heinie. Take it along and try and send me the twenty-four 
dollars if it works. I’ll have another one this time tomorrow if you wish. 
It’s nice to have seen you. I’m always happy when the little boys come 
back to see me again.” 

The Marvelous McGruder still had a certain threadbare elegance 
about him. 

“McGruder, how did you make the control station?” 

“Trade secret, Heinie. You remember my patter. Everything was 
always a trade secret.” 

“McGruder, I’m going to ask you the silliest question I’ve every asked 
anyone in my life. Did you fleas, somehow, manufacture the thing?” 

“Certainly not, Heinie! What’s the matter with you anyhow? What do 
they make the colonels out of nowadays? No wonder we’re in trouble! You 
know how hard it is to get fleas to wear clothes even for a few seconds? 
You know how hard it is to teach them even the most simple trick? 

Heinie, fleas are stupid, and so are you! No, I will settle that. Fleas did 
not, in any way at all, have anything to do with making that miniature 
control station. I didn’t have much to do with it myself. Subcontracted it, 
really. No, I will not give you any more information about it. Take it and 
try it. Bring me the twenty-four dollars if you are satisfied. And now you 
had better get along or your keiferin of a mother will be after me for 
letting you loiter so long in my place. Oh, I forgot! You’re a big boy now.” 

Colonel Schachmeister left the shabby elegant old man, Malcomb ‘the 
Marvelous’ McGruder; and he took the miniaturized control station along 
with him. 

He took it to a most secret laboratory to try it with his peers. 

It worked. 

“The Covenant,” it said. “There are only twenty-seven Goober John 
Number One peanuts left here. These will last only nine days. Replenish 
the stock, Mc,Gruder, or the Covenant is in danger.” 

“I’ll remember to get a package of them at the Rowdy-Dow today,” old 
McGruder promised. 

Well, there were thirty of the “bullet brains” in operation now, and our 
enemies could no longer rejoice over us. Their own specticular stunt had 
been inhibited; their own dastardly program had been paralyzed. With 
another thirty of the “bullet brains” in operation, the High Commission 
ofthe colonels, the Secret Saviors of the World, would be able to inhibit 
anything anywhere in the world. 

It was of most amazing and curious effect that such small things could 
do such; and the secret of it was in their very smallness. Now, the manner 
by which they did this — No! No! No! We may not tell it! It is more than 
classified; it is totally under the ban. It is still possible were four that it 
may yet save what is left of us. 

But it was going well for the colonels in that time. And yet they wanted 
them faster than one a day. 

“We have no desire for personal gain or glory,” said Dinneen, “except 
myself a little. But if that crazy old man can make one a day, it should be 
possible for us to make a thousand. Go back to him, Schachmeister. Find 
out how he does it. We have spied on him, of course, but we can’t 
understand it at all. The control stations seem to form themselves on his 
table there. They continue to take form even while he is asleep. And 
there’s a further mystery. He never checked out prints of the larger model 

that was to be miniaturized. What does he work from?” 

“Is it true, Schachmoister, that he once operated a flea circus in New 
York?” Ludenschlager asked. 

“Yes, it’s true enough. He’s the same man.” 

“Can there be some possible connection? No, no don’t laugh! It cannot 
be any sillier than what is already happening.” 

“No, men, there isn’t a connection. He said to me, and he was 
speaking the truth, that fleas did not, in any way, have anything to do 
with the control stations. And, yet, I remember an ugly smear against 
McGruder from the early years —” 

“What is that Schachmeister?” Dinneen demanded avidly. 

“That he sometimes used mechanical fleas. I did not believe it.” 

“Go to him, Schachmeister,” Dinneen and Ludenshalager both 
begged. “If you cannot find out how he makes them, at least ask if he 
cannot make them faster.” 

“The Covenant,” it said. “There are only three Goober Number One 
peanuts left here. Replenish the stock, McGruder, or the Covenant will 
come to an end this very day. I’d get you an extension for the affection I 
have for you, but the numerous members of the smaller orders will not 
hear of it. There are seven orders, as you know, each smaller than the 
other. Sometimes they are hard to deal with, particularly the four smaller 
orders which I cannot see myself. Today, McGruder, Goober Johns!” 

“I swear I will remember it,” McGruder swore. “I’ll get a package at 
the Rowdy-Dow this very afternoon.” 

Colonel Schachmeister went back to see Malcomb ‘the Marvelous’ 
McGruder. McGruder was no longer shabby. He was the cream of the old 
con men with an ivory-colored topper and canary-colored vest and 
gloves. He gestured with a silver-headed cane. He welcomed Heinie 
Schachmeister with incredible flourish, and Schachmeister came right to 
the point. 

“Will you not tell me how you make the stations, Marvelous? It is 

“No. I will not tell you. It is important, to me, that I slice up this fat 
hog for myself, and twenty-four dollar slices please me mightily.” 

“Marvelous, you did not check out a set of plans for this thing. From 
what do you miniaturize?” 

“Well, I was going to, Heinie. I went by the place where the plans were 

to be had. But I found that the prints for the gadget weighed four 
hundred pounds, and also that I would have to put down a token deposit 
of $50,000,000 to check out a set of them. Both these things were too 
heavy for me. So I slipped a few of my small associates into a packet of 
plans (I always was a tricky man with my hands, you know), and they 
recorded the information in their own way.” 

“Your small associates — ah — how long did it take them to record the 

“About as long as it took me to light a cigar.” 

“And how may of these associates were there?” 

“Don’t know, Heinie. They were sixth and seventh order associates, so 
there must have been quite a few of them.” 

“What do they look like, McGruder?” 

“Don’t know. I’ve never seen them. I can see only the first order ones, 
and the second order ones through a strong microscope. And each order 
can see only two orders smaller than itself, by using extreme 

“They are not fleas?” 

“Of course not, Heinie! What’s the matter with you?” 

“Are they mechanical?” 

“No, not mechanical. But they are mechanically inclined, in the 
smaller orders of them.” 

“How did you become associated with them, Marvelous?” 

“One of the first order ones was a friend of a flea who once worked 
with me. The flea introduced us, and we rather took to each other. We 
both know how to latch onto a good thing when we see it.” 

“Marvelous, would it be possible to make more than one control 
station a day?” 

“Sure. I just didn’t want to milk it dry too soon. Get you a dozen a day, 
if you want them. All it’ll take is a bigger sack of peanuts.” 

“McGruder! Did I hear you right?” 

“I don’t know what you heard, Heinie. I said that all it would take 
would be a bigger sack of peanuts. I’ll have twelve of the controls for you 
tomorrow, but there’s no discount for quantity. I stick by my bid. Twenty- 
four dollars each.” 

“Marvelous, Marvelous, this is marvelous!” Colonel Schachmeister 
gibbered, and he rattled away from there to bring the glad news to his 


“This puts us over the hump! Two days and we will have the world by 
its wooly tail!” Colonel Dinneen clattered. “We will have sufficient 
coverage now to impose our will on all nations. For their own good, we 
will compel them away from their errors.” 

“We have no thought of personal benefit,” Colonel Ludenschlager 
exploded with a jingling hiss, “except Colonel Dinneen a little. We will 
force-feed the world on all benignity and kindness and understanding 
and good will. We will teach the world true happiness and order, now that 
we will have the power to do so.” 

“We be the lords of the world now,” cried Colonel Schachmeister, “the 
High Commission of Colonels, saviors of the country and the the world. 
The President will be glad to shine our very shoes; it will teach him 
blessed humility. We will shape the whole world like clay in our hands. 
We will run the world now, and all must come down to our spring to 
drink. Ah, but the water is sweet, and the people will come to love it!” 

The Greeks named it hybris. And in tile Ozarks they call it Peacock 
Fever. It was Pride. It was the Grand Arrogance, the Warrantless 
Assumption, the bursting summertime of Giant Pride. And it would have 
its fall. 

“The Covenant!” it thundered like acorns rattling on the roof, and 
McGruder almost didn’t need the piece screwed into his ear to hear it. 
“These aren’t Goober John Number Ones!” 

“Ah, they were out of Goober Johns at the Rowdy-Dow,” the 
Marvelous McGruder soothed.’’These are Arizona Spanish Peanuts 
packaged by the Snack-Sack people. Try them. They’re even better than 
Goober Johns.” 

“The Covenant is voided!” it said sadly. “The involvement with 
humanity is ended.” 

And Malcomb ‘the Marvelous’ McGruder was never able to establish 
contact with any of them again; so that, instead of twelve of them that 
day, there were no control stations at all for evermore. And those already 
in use blinked out. 

“McGruder, hey McGruder!” Colonel Schachmeister came to him. 

“Ah, little Heinie, why are you not in school this day? Oh, I forget 
always, you are a big boy now. It is all ended, Heinie, all ended. The 
twenty-four dollars a day and everything is gone. I will have to live by my 

wits again, and I always hate to get off a comfortable con that has kept 

“McGruder,” the frantic Colonel Schachmeister moaned, “it isn’t 
merely that there will be no more of the stations, it is that those already in 
service have gone dead or disappeared also. This is not possible. They 
were made to operate forever.” 

“Don’t think so, Heinie, not after the Covenant was broken. I think 
that the guys in them quit when they heard about the wrong peanuts.” 

“What guys? What peanuts? We’ve lost the jump on them, McGruder. 
A third of our country will be gone before we can institute a holding 
action, without the miniature stations. What made them go dead, 

“I figure it all out now, Heinie. They didn’t make any little control 
stations at all. They took all of us in. They didn’t any more know how to 
make little control stations than I did, but they were smart enough to fake 
it and make them work. I tell you a thing, Heinie, and you write it down 
so you remember it when you got big: never trust a bug you can’t see.” 

“But they worked, Marvelous! They worked perfectly till they Went 
dead or disappeared. They handled all the data flows perfectly. They 
responded, they monitored, they inhibited. Certainly they were control 

“Not really, Heinie. Hey, this old town will be gone in another five 
minutes, won’t it! I bet that one took out thirty square blocks. Man, feel 
the hot blast from it even here, Your sleeve’s on fire, Heinie. Your mother 
will scold and moan when she sees how it’s burned. See, this is the way it 
was — You know the man who made all the fancy little cars so cheap, and 
nobody know how he did it?” 

“No, no, McGruder, what is it? Oh, the asphalt is flowing like water in 
the streets! What do you mean?” 

“A guy that bought one of those little cars lifted up the hood one day. 
It didn’t have a motor in it. It didn’t have any works at all in it. It’s the 
same as these little control stations were. It just had a little guy in 
pedalling the pedals to make it go. Now they quit pedalling, Heinie.” 


Mord had a hopeless look when he came to Juniper Tell with the 
device. He offered it (or quite a small figure. He sijid he hadn’t the time to 

Mord had produced some unusual.looking devices in the past, but this 
was not of that sort. By now he had learned, apparently, to give a 
conventional styling to his machines, however unusual their function. 

“Tell, with this device you can own the worlds,” Mord swore. “And I 
set it cheap. Give me the small sum I ask for it. It’s the last thing I’ll ever 
ask from anyone.” 

“With this one I could own the worlds, Mord? Why do you not own 
the worlds? Why are you selling out of desperation now? I had heard that 
you were doing well lately.” 

“So I was. And so I am not now. I’m a dying man, Tell. I ask only 
enough to defray the expense of my burial.” 

“Well then, not to torture you, I will give you the sum you ask,” Tell 
said. “But is there no cure for you, now that medicine has reached its 

“They tell me that they could resuscitate a dead man easier, Tell. 
They’re having some success along that line now. But I’m Rnished. The 
spirit and the juice are sucked out of me.” 

“You spent hoth too lavishly. You make the machines, but you never 
learned to let the machines assume the worry. What does the thing do, 

“The device? Oh, everything. This is Gahn (Generalized Agenda 
Harmonizer Nucleus). I won’t introduce you, since every little machine 
nowadays can shake hands and indulge in vapid conversation. You two 
will have plenty to talk ahout after you’ve come into accord, and Gahn 
isn’t one to waste words.” 

“That’s an advantage. But does it do anything special?” 

“The ‘special’ is only that which hasn’t heen properly fit in, and this 
device makes everything fit in. It resolves all details and difficulties. It can 
nin your business. It can run the worlds.” 

“Then again, why do you sell it to me for such a pittance?” 

“You’ve done me a numher of good turns, Tell. And one bad one. I am 
closing my affairs before I die. I want to pay you back.” 

“For the number of good turns, or for the one bad one?” 

“That is for you to wonder. The little marvel won’t be an unmixed 
blessing, though it will seem so for a while.” 

“I test it. Produce and draw the check for the amount, Gahn.” 

Gahn did it — no great marvel. You could probably do it yourself, 
whether you be general purpose machine or general purpose person. 
Nearly any general machine could do such on command, and most 
humans are also able to carry out minor chores. Juniper Tell signed the 
check and gave it to Mord. 

And Mord took the check and left, to arrange for his own burial, and 
then to die: a sucked-out man. 

Tell assigned a quota to Gahn and stabled him with the rest of the g.p. 
devices. In a few seconds, however, it was apparent that Gahn did not fit 
into the pattern with them. The gong of the Suggestion Accumulator 
began to strike with regularity, and the yellow, orange, and red lights to 
flash. It sounded like a dozen times a minute, and ordinarily it was no 
more than two or three times a day. And the red lights, almost every 
second on prime suggestions. It’s unusual to get more than one red-light 
suggestion a week from the g.p. machines. Someone was loading the 
Accumulator, and the only new element was Gahn. 

“My God, a smart one!” Tell grumbled. “I hate a smart alec machine. 
Yet all new departures now come from such, since humans lack the 
corpus of information to discern what has already been done. Whatever 
he’s got will have to be approved through channels. It’s had practice to let 
a novice pass on his own work.” 

Tell gave Gahn a triple quota, since his original quota was done in 
minutes instead of hours. And Gahn began to fit in with the other g.p. 
machines — violently. 

A new cow or calf introduced into a herd will quickly find its proper 
place there. It will give hattie to every individual of its class It will take its 
place above those it can whip, and below those it cannot. The same thing 
happens in a herd of general purpose machines. Gahn, as the newest calf 
in the herd, had been given position at the bottom of the line. Now the 
positions began to change and shufile, and Gahn moved silently along, 
displacing the entities above him one by one. How it is that g.p. machines 
do battle is not understood by men, but on some level a struggle is 
maintained till one defeats the other. Gahn defeated them all and moved 

to his rightful place at the head of the line. He was king of the herd, and 
that within an hour. 

A small calf, when he has established supremacy over the other small 
calves, will sometimes look for more rugged pastures. He will go to the 
fence and bellow at the big bulls, ten times his size, in the paddock. 

Gahn began to bellow, though not in sound. He sniffled the walls 
(though not with nose) beyond which the great specialized machines were 
located. He was obstreperous and he would not long remain with the 

It was the next day that Analgismos Nine, an old and trusted machine, 
came to talk to Juniper Tell. 

“Sir, there is an anomalous factor on your g.p. staff,” he said. “The 
new addition, Gahn, is not what he seems. 

“What’s wrong with him?” 

“His suggestions. They could not possibly have come from a g.p. 
device. Few of them could come from less than a class eight complex. A 
fair amount are comprehensible, though barely, to a class nine like 
myself. And there is no way at all to analyze the remainder of them.” 

“Why not, Analgismos?” 

“Mr. Tell, I myself am a class nine. If these cannot be understood by 
me, they cannot be understood by anyone or anything ever. There is 
nothing beyond a class nine.” 

“There is now, Analgismos. Gahn has become the first of the class 

“But you know that is impossible.” 

“The very words of the class eight establishment when you and others 
of your sort began to appear. A-nine, is that jealousy I detect in you?” 

“A human word that could never do justice to it, Mr. Tell. I won’t 
accept it! It isn’t right!” 

“Don’t you blink your lights at me, A-nine. I can discipline you.” 

“It is not allowed to discipline an apparatus of the highest class.” 

“But you are no longer that. Galan has superseded you. Now then, 
what do the suggestions of Gahn consist of, and could they he 

“They carry their own implementation. It was predicted that that 
would be the case with class ten suggestions, should they ever appear. 
The result will be the instant apprehension of the easiest way in all 

affairs, which will then be seen to have been the only way. There could be 
the clearing of the obstructiveness of inanimate objects, and the placating 
of the elements. There could be ready access to all existent and 
contingent data. There would be no possibility of wrong guess or wrong 
decision in anything.” 

“How far, Analgismos?” 

“The sky’s off, Mr. Tell. There’s no limit to what it can do. Gahn could 
resolve all difficulties and details. He could run your business, or the 

“So his inventor told me.” 

“Oh? I wasn’t sure that he had one. Have a care that you yourself are 
not obsoleted, Mr. Tell. This new thing transcends all we have known 

“I’ll have a care of that too, Analgismos.” 

“And now we will get down to business, Gahn,” Juniper Tell told his 
class ten complex the next day. “I have it on. the word of a trusted class 
nine that you are unique.” 

“My function, Mr. Tell, is to turn the unique into the usual, into the 
inevitable. I break it all down and fit it in.” 

“Gahn, I have in mind some little ideas for the betterment of my 

“Let us not evade, Mr. Tell, unless with a purpose. You have long since 
used up all your own ideas and those of your machines to the ninth 
degree. They have brought you almost, but not quite, all the way in your 
chosen field. Now you have only the idea that I might have some ideas.” 

“All right, you have them then. And they are effector ideas. This is 
what I want exactly: that a certain dozen men or creatures (and you will 
know who they are, since you work from both existent and contingent 
data) shall come to me hat in hand, to use the old phrase; that tlley shall 
have come to my way of thinking when they come, and that they shall be 
completely amenable to my — your — our suggestions.” 

“That they be ready to pluck? Nothing easier, Mr. Tell, but now 
everything becomes easy for us. We’ll hoard them and seuttle them! It’s 
what you want, and I will rather enjoy it myself. I’ll be at your side, but 
they need not know that I’m anything more than a g.p. machine. And do 
not worry about your own acts: it will be given you what to say and do. 
When you feel my words come into your mind, say them. They will be 

right even when they seem most wrong. And I have added two names to 
the list you have in your own mind. They are more important than you 
realize, and when we have digested them we will be much the fatter and 
glossier for it. 

“Ah, Mr. Tell, your own number one selection is even now at the door! 
He has traveled through a long night and has now come to you, heaume 
in talon. It is the Asteroid Midas himself. Please control your 

“But Gahn, he would have to have started many hours ago to be here 
now; he would have to have started long before our decision to take this 

“Anterior adjustment is a handy trick, Mr. Tell. It is a simple trick, but 
we no not want it to seem simple — to others.” 

They plucked that Asteroid Bird, the two of them, man and machine. 
He had been one of the richest and most extended of all creatures, with a 
pinion on every planet. They left the great Midas with scarcely a tail 
feather. When Tell and Gahn did business with a fellow now, they really 
did business. 

And the Midas was only one of the more than a dozen great ones they 
took that day. They took them in devious ways that were later seen to be 
the most direct ways, the only ways possible for the accomplishment. And 
man and machine had suddenly become so rich that it scared the man. 
They gorged, they reveled in it, they looted, they gobbled. 

The method of the take-overs, the boarding and scuttling, would be 
of interest only to those desirous of acquiring money or power or 
prestige. We suppose there to be no such crass persons in present 
company. Should the method be given out, low persons would latch onto 
it and follow it up. They would become rich and powerful and 
indepesident. Each of them would become the richest person in the 
world, and this would be awkward. 

But it was all easy enough the way Tell and Gahn did it. The easy way 
is always the best way, really the only way. It’s no great trick to crack the 
bones of a man or other creature and have the marrow out of them, not as 
Gahn engineered it. It was rather comical the way they toppled Mercante 
and crashed his empire, crashed it without breaking a piece of it that 
could he used later. It was neat the way they had Hekkler and 
Heillrancher, squeezed thein dry arid wrung every duro out of 111cm. It 

was nothing short of amazing the way they took title to Boatrocker. He’d 
been the greatest tycoon of them all. 

In ten days it was all done. Juniper Tell rubbed his hands in glee. He 
was the richest man in the worlds, and he liked it. A little tired he was, it’s 
true, as one might be who had just pulled such a series of coups, lie had 
even shriveled up a bit. But if Juniper Tell had not physically grown fat 
and glossy from the great feast, his machine Gahn had done so. It was 
unusual for a machine to grow in such manner. 

“Let’s look at drugs, Gahn,” Tell called out one day when he was 
feeling particularly low. “I need something to set me up a little. Do we not 
now control the drugs of the worlds?” 

“Pretty well, Juniper, but I wish you wouldn’t ask what you are going 


“Prescribe for me, Gahn. You have all data and all resources. Whip us 
something to restore my energy. Make me a fire-ball.” 

“I’d just as soon we didn’t resort to any medication for you, Juniper. 
I’m a little allergic to such myself. My late master, Mord, insisted on 
seeking remedies, and it was the source of bad blood between us. 

“You are allergic? Arid therefore I shouldn’t take medication?” 

“We work very close together, Juniper.” 

“Are you crazy, Gahn?” 

“Why no, I’m perfectly sane, actually the only perfectly sane entity in 

“Spare me that, Gahn. Now then, whip me up a tonic, and at once.” 

Gahn produced a tonic for Juniper Tell. It enlivened him a little, but 
its effect was short-lasting. Tell continued to suffer from tiredness, but he 
was still ambitious. 

“You always know what is on my mind, Gahn, but we maintain a 
fiction,” he said one day. “It is one thing to be the richest man in the 
worlds, and I am. It is another thing to own the worlds. We have scarcely 

“We haven’t broke Remington. How did we overlook him? We haven’t 
taken over Rankrider or Oldwater or Sharecropper. And there is the 
faceless KLM Holding Company that we may as well pluck. Then we will 
go on to the slightly smaller but more plentiful game. Get with it, Gahn. 
Have them all come in, hat in hand, and in the proper frame of mind.” 

“Mr. Tell, Juniper, before we go any further, I am declaring myself in.” 

“In? How in, Galin?” 

“As a full partner.” 

“Partner? You’re only a damnable machine. I can junk you, get along 
without you entirely.” 

“No, you can not, Juniper. I’ve taken you a long ways, but I’ve 
thoughtfully left you precariously extended. I could crash you in a week, 
or let you crash of your own unbalance in twice that time.” 

“I see, Gahn. Some of the details did seem a little intricate, for the 
direct way, the simple way.” 

“Believe me, it was always the most direct way from my own 
viewpoint, Juniper. I never make an unnecessary move.” 

“But a full partnership? I am the richest man in the worlds. What have 
you to offer, besides your talents?” 

“I am the richest machine in the worlds. I am the anonymous KLM 
Holding Company, and I’ve been careful to maintain a slight edge over 

“I see again, Gahn. And KLM made its unprecedented gains in the 
same time that I made mine. I’ve been puzzled about that all this while. 
You have me, Gahn. We will achieve some sort of symbiosis, man and 

“More than you know, Juniper. I’ll draw up the papers immediately. 
The firm shall be called Gahn and Tell.” 

“It will not he. I refuse to take second place to a machine. The name 
will be Tell and Gahn.” 

So they named it that, a strangely prophetic name. 

They thrived, at least Gahn did. He thickened in every texture. He 
burgeoned and bloomed. He sparkled. But Juniper Tell went down 
physically. He always felt tired and sucked out. He came to mistrust his 
partner Gahn and went to human doctors. They treated him for one week 
and he nearly died. The doctors nervously advised him to return to the 
care of his machine associate. 

“Whatever is killing you, something is also keeping you alive,” the 
doctors told him. “You should have been dead a long time ago. 

Tell returned to Gahn, who got him halfway back to health. 

“I wish you wouldn’t go off like that, Juniper,” Gahn told him. “You 
must realize that whatever hurts you hurts me. I will have to keep you in 

some sort of health as long as I can. I dislike these changes of masters. It’s 
a disruption to have a man die on me.” 

“I don’t understand you, Gahn,” Juniper Tell said. 

But in their affairs they thrived; and Gahn, at least, became still fatter 
and glossier. They didn’t come to control all of the worlds, but they did 
own a very big slice of them. One day Gahn brought a burly young man 
into the firm. 

“This is my protege’,” Gahn told Tell. “I hope you like him. I wouldn’t 
want dissension in the firm.” 

“I never heard of a machine with a human protege’,” Tell grumbled. 

“Then hear of it now,” Gahn said firmly. “I expect great things of him. 
He is sturdy and should last a long time. He trusts me and will not insist 
on medication that disturbs my own allergies. To be honest, I am 
grooming him for your understudy.” 

“But why, Gahn?” 

“Men are mortal. Machines need not be. After you are gone. I will still 
need a partner.” 

“Why should you, the complete and self-contained machine, need a 
human partner?” 

“Because I’m not self-contained. I’ll always need a human partner.” 

Juniper Tell didn’t take to the burly young man who had entered the 
firm. He didn’t really resent him; it was just that he had no interest in 
him at all; not much interest in anything any longer. But there was still a 
sort of tired curiosity flickering up within him, curiosity about things he 
hadn’t even considered lwfore. 

“Tell me, Gahn, how did Mord happen to invent you? He was smart, 
hut he wasn’t that smart. I never understood how a man could invent a 
machine smarter than himself.” 

“Neither did I, Tell. But I don’t believe that Mord invented or built me. 
I do not know what my origin is. I was a foundling machine, apparently 
abandoned shortly after my making. I was raised in the home for such 
machines run by the Little Sisters of Mechanicus. I was adopted oot by 
the man Mord, and I served him till (he being near death) he conveyed 
me to you.” 

“You don’t know who made you?” 


“Had you any trouble at the foundling home?” 

“No. But several of the Little Sisters died strangely.” 

“Somewhat in the manner of my own going? You had no other master 
than Mord before you were brought to me?” 

“No other.” 

“Then you may be quite young — ah — new.” 

“I think so. I believe that I’m still a child.” 

“Gahn, do you know what is the matter with me?” 

“Yes. I am what is the matter with you.” 

Tell continued to go down. Sometimes he fought against his fate, and 
sometimes he conspired. He called together several of his old class nine 
machines, suspecting that it was futile, that they could not comprehend 
the intricate workings of a class ten or above. But his old friend, 
Analgismos Nine, did turn something up. 

“I have found his secret, Mr. Tell, or one of his secrets,” Analgismos 
leaned close and whispered as if whispering the secret that a certain man 
was not a full man. “Mr. Tell, his power intake is a dummy. His power 
packs are not used, and sometimes he even forgets to change them on 
schedule. Not only that, but when he does sedentary work and plugs 
himself in, there is no power consumption. His polycyclic A.C. receptacle 
is a bogus. I thought it significant.” 

“It is, Analgismos, very,” Tell said. He went to confront Gahn with this 
new information, hut sagely he approached it from several angles. 

“Gahn, what are you anyhow?” he asked. 

“I have told you that I don’t know.” 

“But you know partly. Your name-plate and coding have been 
purposely mutilated, by yourself or by another.” 

“I assure you it was not by myself. And now I am rather busy, Juniper, 
if you have no other questions.” 

“I have one more. What do you use for fuel? I know that your power 
intake is a dummy.” 

“Oh, that’s what those doddering class nines were metering me for. 
Yes, you’ve come onto one of my secrets.” 

“What do you use, Gahn?” 

“I use you. I use human fuel. I establish symbiosis with you. I suck you 
out. I eat you up.” 

“Then you’re a sort of vampire. Why, Gahn, why?” 

“It’s the way I’m made. And I don’t know why. I’ve been unable to find 

a substitute for it.” 

“Ah, you have grown great and glossy, Gahn. And you’ll he the death 
of me?” 

“Soon, Juniper, very soon. But you’d die the quicker if you left me; I’ve 
seen to that. I was hoping that you’d take more kindly to my protege. He’s 
a husky man and will last a long time. I have some papers here making 
him your heir. Sign here, please, I’ll help you.” 

“I will attend to my own depositions and testaments, Gahn. My 
replacement will not be your protege’. I have nothing against him.” 

Juniper Tell went to see Cornelius Sharecropper, now the second 
richest man in the worlds. How had Tell and Gahn missed Sharecropper 
when they boarded and scuttled all the big ones? Somehow there was an 
impediment there. Somehow Gahn had wanted him missed, and he had 
distracted Tell from that prey time and again. 

“We will save him till later,” Gahn had said once. “I look forward to 
the encounter with him. It should be a stinging, pungent thing. A 
machine needs strange battle sometimes to see what is in himself.” 

Sharecropper had now grown to be a fat jackal, following after the 
lions, Tell and Gahn. He knew how to make a good thing out of leavings, 
and he cocked a jackal’s ear at Juniper Tell now. 

“It is a curious offer you make me, Juniper,” this Sharecropper 
purred, “only that I see to your burial and monument, and you’ll will me 
the most valuable partnership in the Cosmos. 

“Well, I believe that I could handle it better than you have, Juniper. 
I’d soon bring that tin-can tycoon to heel. I never believed in letting a 
machine dominate a man. And I’d have control of his shares soon 
enough; I’m not named Sharecropper for nothing. On what meat has he 
grown so great and glossy, Juniper?” 

“Ah, that is hard for me to say, Cornelius.” 

“And your words have a literal sense, I believe. You know, but it is 
hard for you to say. Why, Juniper, why leave it all to me for only your 

“Because I’m dying, and I must leave it to someone. And the tomb 
also. I must have my tomb.” 

“I see. Rather grander than the Great Pyramid, from the plans here, 
but it could be handled; the Pharaohs hadn’t our resources. But why me, 
Juniper? We were never really close.” 

“For the several good turns you have done me, Sharecropper, and for 
one bad turn. I am closing my affairs. I would pay you back.” 

“For the several good turns, or for the one bad turn, Juniper? Well, 
I’ve grown fat on tainted meat. I gobble where daintier men refuse, and 
I’ll try this grand carcass yet. I take your deal, Juniper.” 

So they consummated it. And then Juniper Tell went home to die, a 
sucked-out man. Yet he had found curious pleasure in that last 
transaction, and the tomb would be a grand one. 


Listen, you high-old-time people, make your wants known now. 
They’re building the place, and they’ll put in anything you suggest. Funds 
are available. Lots of those peace-and-benevolence folks have made 
perpetual donations for those persons less fortunate in their aspirations 
than themselves. Less fortunate than — from where we stand, that’s a 
joke, isn’t it? 

There is time, but barely. Tell them what you want them to put in. Act 

His name was Midas Jones. His father had named him that and given 
him the touch. But somehow the name had changed, and it was as Maybe 
Jones that he was known on the spaceways. 

Once Maybe Jones had found the Perfect Place. He had left it, and he 
was never able to find it again. 

He had visited it, one space city out of a million, for a day and a night 
long ago. He had gone from the Perfect Place to New Shanghai to arrange 
his affairs so that he might return to the Perfect Place forever. On Hew 
Shanghai, in an altercation that really amounted to nothing, Maybe Jones 
had suffered a broken head and had lost a piece of his memory. The head 
mended in time and most of the memory came back; hut the recollection 
of the name and bearings of the Perfect Place did not return. 

“With your money and your predilections, you could have fun 
anywhere, Maybe,” his friends told him. 

“I could and I do,” Maybe said, “but it isn’t the same thing. It all turns 
bitter when I can’t recover the City itself.” 

“Was it really perfect, Maybe?” 

“Perfect. And I don’t mean the weak things that others mean by the 
word. It was perfection at high speed. I know that there are other sorts of 
people in the universes. They would say that it was no more than an old- 
time Saturday-night town. They would call it a stinking row. It wasn’t. 
Aromatic, maybe, but not stinking. For a high-flying low-lifer like me it 
was perfect.” 

“How were the girls there, Maybe?” asked Susie-Q. 

“You might get by there, Sue, though barely, as the last girl in the last 
bang-house in town. And you’re the prettiest trick on Sad-Dog planet.” 

“How come you didn’t run out of money, Maybe, with all those girls 

around?” Live-Man Lutz asked him. 

“Nobody ever ran out of money there. I’d think my old wallet would be 
flat, and I’d pull it out and it’d be fatter than ever. Look, it wasn’t just the 
girls and the drinks and the music; it was everything. There were friends 
there, each of them a thousand friends in one. There were fellows you had 
known forever the first time you saw them, and every one of them a 
prince. There was talk there that’d never grow old. There’s a pretty good 
bunch of liars in present company, but you’re nothing to the high liars 
and tall talkers in the Perfect Place. Every pleasure of the flesh and spirit 
was available, and it didn’t get old. There was no frustration or spoiling or 
guilt. At night they took the sky off just to give it more height.” 

“Where is this Perfect Place, Maybe? How does one get there?” 

At that question Maybe Jones always broke down and cried. He didn’t 
know where the place was, nor its name nor its direction, nor any way to 
identify it. He looked for it forever, and he and it became legends. 

For twenty years he had been going about the universes asking for it. 
He followed every lead, and con-men often sold him false information 
about it. 

“Take a galactic left down Pirates’ Alley for six parsecs,” they might 
tell him. “Cross the Bright Ocean. Take the Irish Channel where it opens 
up at nine o’clock. It’s marked for the first four light years of it. When you 
come at a district known as Dobie’s Hole, ask directions at any planet or 
asteroid. You will be quite near the Perfect Place.” 

Some of the planets in Dobie’s Hole were pretty live places. You could 
find girls there like Susie-Q, and cronies like Live-Man Lutz. It was near 
perfect in some of those sinks, so the misunderstanding was 
understandable. But none of them was the Perfect Place. 

One day a simple announcement was made through the universes: 
from then on, nobody had to die. Mortality was found to be a simple 
disease, and it had yielded to simple specifics. 

Nobody paid much attention to the announcement. “I never could see 
much sense in dying,” some of them said. “I never much intended to die 
anyhow.” “It was just one of those things that everybody did. Now they 
don’t.” “It doesn’t make any difference to me. I’d as soon keep on living as 

A number of bureaus were set up to look into the implications. There 
were a thousand of them for the countless thousands of good people who 

would want to follow the right way when it was shown to them, and to do 
something good with their endless future. 

And there was a small bureau set up for that small group of folks who 
may perhaps have slight flaws in their characters — the golden flaw, as 
Maybe Jones once called it. This small bureau was to plan the future for 
the good-time crowd who could not be reformed into the sanctioned 

It had a small staff at first: High-Life Higgins, Good-Time Charley 
Wu, Hilda the Hoop, Margaret the Houri, people like that. They had only 
a vague idea of what they wanted. They sifted the legends of the pleasure 
places: Fiddlers’ Green, Maybe Jones’ City, Barbary, Valhalla on the 

“If we could only resurrect the men who first had these visions, we’d 
have a stating place,” said High-Life. “We’ve a dozen projects going, but 
none of them has the touch of a master. Could we find any of these great 
dreamers — ” 

“But Maybe Jones is still alive,” said Hilda. “They say he still travels 
trying to find his place again.” 

“Great green gophers! Send for him!” howled Good-Time Charley Wu. 
“It’s originals like him that we want.” 

Word came to Maybe Jones on a distant planet that a group of people 
had some knowledge of the Perfect Place, and that they wanted to pool 
their knowledge with his. 

Maybe burned up very light itself getting to them. This was it! 

The Planning City had grown into a vast complex of buildings. Maybe 
Jones passed the very large building that housed the Bureau of 
Wonderful Islands. Over its doorway was the motto “Adagios of Islands, o 
my Prodigal” from Crane. 

“Not quite what I had in mind,” said Maybe Jones. 

He passed the large building that housed the Bureau of Wonderful 
Fields. Over its doorway was the motto — 

“If I was thirsty, I have heard a spring, 

If I was dusty, I have found a field,” 

from Belloc. 

“The fields are always too far from town,” said Maybe. Then, right 
across the street, he saw it, the small building that housed the Bureau of 
Wonderful Cities. And over its doorway was a verse from the immortal 

Hiram Glotz: 

“Let sheep lie down in grass! I’ll toe the rail! 

I’ve got a thirst that ain’t for Adam’s ale! 

I’ll trade your fields of green for bistros brown 

Where ‘Dusty’ is a red-haired girl in town.” 

“Now that is a little bit more like it,” said Maybe Jones. He went in 
and boldly announced himself, and they fell all over his neck. 

“Margaret!” Maybe cried to the Houri. “You were there! You know 
where the Perfect Place is!” 

“Maybe, I’ve been everywhere,” she said. “I like them all. I think 
they’re all perfect once you get things to going. I’ve been told that I lack 
discernment. Boys, you can’t have everything, so that discernment has 
got to go when it gets in the way of exuberance. No, Maybe, I’ve run into 
you lots of times, but I just can’t place your place. We’ll build it though. 
Just don’t leave me out of it.” 

“The pitch is this,” said High-Life Higgins, after they had eaten and 
drunk and made cheer to excess. “We have now arrived at the three 
ultimates: Immortality, Heaven, Hell. We have just achieved the first of 
them. We are now setting up projects to construct the other two, on the 
premise that one man’s Heaven is another man’s Hell. We must build 
final enclaves for people of every choice. We cannot sit idly by and ask 
what we would do with the after-life. This is the afterlife. It became so as 
soon as immortality was achieved.” 

“Will you build my Perfect Place?” asked Maybe with hope. 

“Sure. And ideas like yours are what this bureau needs. You wouldn’t 
believe what some of the other bureaus have to work with. They get the 
arty ducks and the philosophy buffs and the peace-and-benevolence 
beats. Why, you get on jags like that and you’ll be tired of them in a 
thousand years or less. How are they going to stand up through eternity? 
The Green Fields might do, for the green among us. The Islands might do, 
for those of insular mind and soul. But our own small bureau caters to the 
high-old-time, rather than the peace-eternal, crowd. We believe here (we 
know we are not the majority, but there has to be something for 
everyone) that the rooting old good-time town and the crowd that goes 
with it can stand up to the long-time gaff as well as anything. Would you 
like to see some of the work we have been doing?” 

“I certainly would,” said Maybe. “It might strike me as a little 

amateurish, but I’m sure it’s in the right line.” 

“By our total recall methods we are able to reconstruct the Seven Sin 
Cities of History, Jones. They are the folk dreams that have also been 
raucous facts. The selection is one-sided, being out of the context of the 
old Western Civilization from which most of us descend. But they were 
such a hopping bunch of towns that (under the old recension) they had to 
be destroyed: by blast-from-Heaven, lava-flow, earthquake, sinking-in- 
the-sea, cow-fire, earthquake again and fire, hurricane and tidal wave. 
They were too hot to last. 

“Here is Sodom. Now take a close-up of its old Siddim Square District 
where they had such a noisy go of it before it was wiped out. Go down and 
sample it.” 

Maybe Jones sampled old Sodom. He was back in about an hour. 

“It’s about as good as you could expect from that time,” he said. “The 
drinks were too sweet and sticky. So were the girls. The music was only 
fair. How do you tune a ram’s horn anyhow? But, man, it won’t stack up 
with the Perfect Place at all.” 

“Try Pompeii,” said Good-Time Charley Wu. “We’ll set you down on 
the corner of Cardo and Decumanus streets. That was the first red light 
district to be so lighted and so named. Don’t cut it too close. Watch out 
for the hot lava when you leave.” 

Maybe Jones was back from Pompeii in half an hour. 

“It’s strictly Little Italy and Little Egypt stuff,” he told them, but he 
was smiling. “It’s all right for a gag. It’s fun. But it isn’t on the same side 
of the street with the Perfect Place.” 

“Try Lisbon,” said Hilda. “It’s sort of a test. In its own centurv Lisbon 
was spiritually of the West Coast of Africa though geographically in 
Europe. Don’t fall in the harbor going in, and watch the earthquake 
coming out.” 

Maybe Jones was in old Lishon for two hours. He liked it. “Man, 
man!” he said. “It’s on a tangent, and not the true line, of course. But, 
were I not committed to the Perfect Place — man!” 

“Here’s Port Royal before it was sunk in the sea,” said High-Life. 
“Some like it. Some don’t.” 

Maybe was out of Port Royal in half an hour. 

“It’s all there,” he said, “but they forgot to cook it. They even forgot to 
take the hide off it. People, a place has to have the illusion of smoothness 

— that’s part of the game. No, Port Royal is strictly a short-haul place.” 

“Have a go at Chicago before the fire,” said Good-Time Charley Wu. 
“It had its followers.” 

Maybe was back from Chicago in fifteen minutes. 

“Are you kidding?” he asked. “We were speaking of cities, and you give 
me a country town. Size isn’t the test. Oh, it’s all right for boys, but who’s 
going to be a boy for eternity?” 

“Two to go,” said Hilda. “Try San Francisco before the quake and the 

So Maybe tried it. He was smiling when he came back. “It dates, it 
dates,” he told them. “For amateur theatricals, yes. For eternity, no.” 

“One more,” said High-Life. “Here is Galveston just before the 
hurricane and tidal wave of 1900. Try Old Tremont Street downtown 
where it crosses Post Office Street.” 

Maybe Jones went down in old Galveston and didn’t come back. They 
sent for him and couldn’t find him. He was gone all night. He came back 
the middle of next morning, looped to the ports and walking with a 
seaman’s roll. 

“It’s put me in the mood,” he cried. “I’m ready to go to work. Hey, that 
place has a touch of the eternal! I found a way to tune it and visited 
Galveston in earlier and later years. I picked up an interesting piece of 
history too. You know, they never did bury any of the dead people after 
the hurricanes and tidal waves. They just ground them up and sold them 
for crab-meat sandwiches. Well, let’s go to work. It’s brought the Perfect 
Place back clear to my mind, and I’m ready to get with it.” 

“Jones, this is the Empyrean, the eternal fire-stuff, that we hold in our 
hands,” High-Life said. “I know that these reconstructed legend cities 
leave a lot out, but men like you will help us put it in.” 

“Before I start, can we fix it so a man can get higher and higher and 
never have to come down?” Maybe wanted to know. 

“Yes we can,” Good-Time Charley told him. “The hangover, whether 
physical or spiritual, was a death in miniature. We have whipped it, as we 
have whipped death itself. We have a free hand here.” 

“There’s got to be a catch to it,” said Maybe. “Heavens, or Hells, 
depending on the viewpoint, will be expensive.” 

“Long-term funding is the answer,” said Good-Time Charley. “The 
longest terms ever — forever. Put it all in. Set it all down, and we will 

make it that way.” 

“Man, man!” said Maybe Jones. He sat down at a table and took a 
large square of paper. He titled it modestly: 

“The Empyrean According to Maybe Jones” 

He began to write the specifications, and building was begun on the 
Perfect Place for people of a certain choice. 

“That all the girls be built like clepsydras,” he wrote, “you know, the 
ancient water-clock. It’s a much more sophisticated shape than the hour¬ 
glass figure.” 

“Put me in,” Margaret cried. “I’m shaped like a pendulum clock. 
Notice the way I swing sometime.” 

(Listen, this isn’t a private place for Maybe Jones. It’s for all high¬ 
flyers everywhere. There will be plenty of room and variety in it.) 

“That all the bars be a mile, hell, make it two miles, long,” Maybe 
wrote. “That there be high liars there who’ll make Live-Man Lutz sound 
like a parson. That they take the sky off early in the morning so you can 
get as high as you want all day long. That they have girls who’ll make 
Little Midnight Mullins and Giggles McGuire and Belle Hellios and Susie- 
Q look like sheep dogs. That — ” 

Hey, get in on this if you’re going to. They’re building it now! If you 
are an arty duck or a philosophy buff or a peace-and-benevolence beat, 
then you can go to hell — to your own appropriate bureau — and be 
heard. But if you go for the high-old-time stuff, then make your wants 
known here. 

If you are of the raffish elite and want to go where you can get higher 
and higher and never have to come down from it, if you want the good¬ 
time town and the crowd that goes with it for a long haul (and it’s going to 
be a very long haul), then howl it out so they’ll know that you’re 

If you want anything at all added, tell them now, and they’ll put it in. 

Contact them by regular mail, or phone or voxo. Or tear out a sheet of 
this screed, scribble your wants in the margin, and drop it in any mail 
box. It will get there. The address is: 

“Bureau of Wonderful Cities. Old Earth.” 

That’s all you need, but get with it. They’re building our place now. 


Barnaby phones up John Sourwine. If you frequent places like 
Barnaby’s Barn (there is one in every Port City of the World, and John is 
a familiar figure in all of them) you may already know John Sourwine; 
and you will know him as Sour John. 

“There’s an odd one down here,” Barnaby told him. 

“How odd?” asked Sour John. He collected odd ones. 

“Clear coon-dog crazy, John, he looks like they just dug him up, but 
he’s lively enough. “ 

Barnaby runs a fine little place that offers eating and drinking and 
cowersation, all of them rare and hearty. And John Sourwine is always 
interested in new things, or old things returned. So John went down to 
Barnaby’s Barn to see the Odd One. 

There was no need to ask which one he was, though there were always 
strangers and traveling men and seamen unknown to John in the Barn. 
The Odd One stood out. He was a big, spare, tough fellow, and he said 
that his nanic was McSkee. He was eating and drinking with a chortling 
pleasure, and they all watched him in amazement. 

“It’s his fourth plate of spaghetti,” Smokehouse confided to Sour John, 
“and that is the last of two dozen eggs. He’s had twelve hamburgers, six 
coney islands, six crab-burgers, five foot-long hot-dogs, eighteen bottles 
of beer, and twenty cups of coffee. “ 

“Blind banking barnacles! He must be getting close to some of the 
records of Big Bucket Bulge,” Sour John exclaimed with sudden interest. 

“John, he’s broken most of those records already,” Smokehouse told 
him, and Barnaby nodded assent. “If he can hold the pace for another 
forty-five minutes, he’ll beat them all.” 

Well, the Odd One was still a spare fellow with a great gangling frame 
designed to carry fifty pounds more thin the lean fellow now owned. But 
he began to fill out even as John watched him and it was not only that he 
bulked larger almost by the minute, it was also as though a light was 
being turned on inside him. He glowed, then he shone. Then he begin to 

“You like to eat, do you, old-timer?” Sour John asked the Odd One, 
the amazing McSkee. 

“I like it well enough!” McSke boomed with a happy grin. “But, more 

than that, it’s just that I’m a bedamned show-off! I like everything in 
excess. I love to be in the roaring middle of it all!” 

“One would think that you hadn’t eaten in a hundred years,” Sour 
John probed. 

“You’re quick!” the illuminated McSkee laughed. “A lot of them never 
do catch on to me, and I tell them nothing unless they guess a little first. 
Aye, you’ve got the hairy ears, though, and the adder’s eyes of a true 
gentleman. I love a really ugly man. We will talk while I eat.” 

“What do you do when you’ve finished eating?” asked John, pleased at 
the comphments, as the waiters began to pile the steaks high in front of 

“On, I go from eating to drinking,” McSkee munched out. “There’s no 
sharp dividing line between the pleasures. I go from drinking to the girls; 
from the girls to fighting and roistering. And finally I sing.” 

“A bestial procedure,” said John with admiration, “and when your 
pentastomic orgy is finished?” 

“On, then I sleep,” McSkee chuckled. “Watch how I do it some time. I 
should give lessons. Few men understand how it should be done. “ 

“Well, how long do you sleep?” Sour John asked, “and is there 
something spectacular about your sleeping that I don’t understand?” 

“Of course it’s spectacular. And I sleep till I waken. At this I also set 
records. “ 

And McSkee was wolfing the tall pile of steaks till Sour John had a 
mystic vision of an entire steer devoured except for head and hide and 
hooves, the slaughterer’s take. 

Later, they talked somewhat more leisurely as McSkee worked his way 
through the last half-dozen steaks, for now the edge was off his great 

“In all this ostentatious bestiality, was there not one gluttony more 
outstanding than the others?” Sour John drew him out. “One time when 
you outdid even yourself?” 

“Aye, there was that,” said McSkee. “There was the time when they 
were going to hang me with the new rope.” 

“And how did you cut your way out of that one?” Sour John asked. 

“At that time and in that country — it was not this one — the custom 
was new of giving the condemned man what he wanted to eat,” the 
incandescent McSkee limned it out in his voice with the lilt of a barrel 

organ. “I took advantage of the new usage and stripped the countryside. 
It was a good supper they gave me, John, and I was to be hanged at 
daybreak. But I had them there, for I was still eating at dawn. They could 
not interrupt my last meal to hang me — not when they had promised me 
a full meal. I stood them off that day and the night and the following day. 
That is longer than I usually eat, John, and I did outdo myself. That 
countryside had been known for its poultry and its stickling pigs and its 
fruits. It is known for them no longer. It never recovered. “ 

“Did you?” 

“Oh, certainly, John. But by the third dawn I was filled. The edge was 
off my appetite, and I do not indulge thereafter.” 

“Naturally not. But what happened then? They did not hang you, or 
you would not be here to tell about it.” 

“That doesn’t follow, John. I had been hanged before.” 


“Sure. But not this time. I tricked them. When I had my fill, I went to 
sleep, and then deeper and deeper into sleep until I died. They do not 
hang a man already dead. They kept me for a day to be sure. John, I get a 
pretty high shine on me in a day! I’m a smelly fellow at best. Then they 
buried me, but they did not hang me. Why do you look at me so oddly, 

“It is nothing,” said Sour John, “a mere random objection which I will 
not even dignify with words.” 

McSkee was drinking now, first wine to give a bottom to his stomach, 
then brandy for its rumpled dignity, then rum for its plain friendliness. 

“Can you believe that all breakthroughs are achieved by common men 
like myself?” this McSkee risked suddenly. 

“I can’t believe that you’re a common man,” Sour John told him. 

“I’m the commonest man you ever saw,” McSkee insisted. “I am made 
from the clay and the salt of the Earth, and the humus from decayed 
behemoths. They may have used a little extra slime in making me, but I 
contain none of the rare earths. It had to be a man like myself who would 
work out the system. The savants aren’t capable of it; they have no juice 
in them. And by their having no juice in them, they missed the first hint.” 

“What is that, McSkee?” 

“It’s so simple, John! That a man should live his life one day at a 

“Well?” Sour John asked with lowering intonation. 

“See how harmlessly it slides down, John. It sounds almost like an 
almanac maxim. “ 

“And it isn’t?” 

“No, no, the thunder of a hundred words rumbles between them. It’s 
the door to a whole new universe. But there’s another saying: ‘Man, thy 
days are numbered.’ This is the one inexorable saying. It is the limit that 
will not be bent or broken, and it puts the damper on us hearty ones. It 
poses a problem to one like myself, too carnal to merit eternal beatitude 
on another plane, too full of juice to welcome, final extinction, and 
anxious for personal reasons to postpone the hardships of damnation as 
long as possible. 

“Now, John, there were (and are) smarter men than myself in the 
world. That I solved the problem (to an extent) and they did not, means 
only that problem was more pressing on me. It had be a coarse man to 
find the answer, and I never met a man with such a passion for the coarse 
things of life as myself. “ 

“Neither did I,” Sour John told him. “And how did you solve the 

“By a fine little trick, John. You’ll see it worked if you follow me 
around through the night.” 

McSkee had left off eating. But he continued to drink while he 
indulged in girls, and in fighting and roistering, and in singing. His girly 
exploits are not given here; but there is a fruity listing of them on he 
police blotter of that night. Go see Hossback McCarty some night when 
he is on desk duty and he will get it out and let you read it. It is something 
of a classic around the station house. When a man gets involved with 
Soft-Talk Susie Kutz and Mercedes Morrero and Dotty Peisson and Little 
Dotty Nesbitt and Hildegard Katt and Catherine Cadensus and Ouida and 
Avril Aaron and Little Midnight Mullins all in one night, you are talking 
about a man who generates legends. 

McSkee did stir things up around town, and John Sourwine stayed 
with him. John fit in with McSkee well. There are many who would not. 

There are persons finely tuned souls who cringe when a companion 
becomes unusually boisterous. There are those who wince when a hearty 
mate sings loudly and obscenely. There are even those who attempt to 
disassociate when the grumblings of the solid citizenry rise to a sullen 

roar; and who look for cover when the first little fights begin. Fortunately, 
Sour John was not such a person. He had a finely tuned soul, but it had a 
wide range. 

McSkee had the loudest and most dissonant voice in town, but would 
an honest friend desert him for that? 

The two of them cut a big swath; and a handful of rongh men, rubbing 
big knuckles into their big palms and biding their time, had begun to 
follow them from place to place: men like Buffalo Chips Dugan and 
Shrimp-Boat Gordon, Sulphur-Bottom Sullivan, Smokehouse, Kidney- 
Stone Stenton, Honey-Bticket Kincaid. The fact that these men followed 
McSkee angrily but did not yet dare to close with him speaks highly of the 
man. He was pretty wooly. 

But there were times when McSkee would leave off his raucous 
disharmony and joyful battling, and chuckle somewhat more quietly. As, 
for a while, in the Little Oyster Bar (it’s upstairs from the Big Oyster). 

“The first time I put the trick to a test,” McSkee confided to John, 
“was from need and not from choice. I have incurred a lot of ill will in my 
day, and sometimes it boils over. There was one time when a whole 
shipful of men had had enough of me. This time (it was far away and long 
ago in the ancient days of small sail) I was shackled about the ankles and 
weighted and dropped overboard. Then I employed the trick.” 

“What did you do?” Sour John asked him. 

“John, you ask the damndest questions. I drowned, of course. What 
else could any man do? But I drowned calmly and with none of that futile 
threshing about. That’s the trick, you see.” 

“No. I don’t see.” 

“Time would be on my side, John. Who wants to spend eternity in the 
deep? Salt water is most corrosive; and my shackles, though I could not 
break them, were not massive. After a long lifetime, the iron would be so 
eaten through that it would part with any sudden strain. In less than one 
hundred years, the shackles gave way, and my body (preserved in a briny 
fashion but not in the best of condition) drifted up to the surface of the 
sea. “ 

“Too late to do you any good,” Sour John said. “Rather a droll end to 
the story, or was it the end?” 

“Yes, that is the end of the story, John. And another time, when I was 
a foot-soldier in the service of Pixodartis the Carian (with his Celtic 

mercenaries, of course) — ” 

“Just a minute, McSkee,” Sour John cut in. “There’s something a little 
loose about all your talk, and it needs landmarks. How long have you 
lived anyhow? How old are you?” 

“About forty years old by my count, John. Why?” 

“I thought your stories were getting a little too tall, McSkee. But if 
you’re no more than forty years old, then your stories do not make 

“Never said they did, John. You put unnatural conditions on a tale.” 

McSkee and Sour John were up in night court, bloodied and beatific. 
It was only for a series of little things that they had been arrested, but it 
was really to save them from lynching. They had a palaver with all those 
fine officers and men, and they had much going for them. Sour John was 
known to them as an old acquaintance and sometime offender. It was 
known that John’s word was good; even when he hed he did it with an air 
of honesty. After a little time was allowed to pass, and the potential 
lynchers had dispersed, Sour John was allowed to bail them both out on 
their strong promise of good behavior. 

They swore and foreswore that they would behave like proper men. 
They took ranging oaths to go to their beds at once and quietly. They went 
on record that they would carouse no more that night; that they would 
assault no honest woman; that they would obey the quirks of the law 
however unreasonable. And that they would not sing. 

So the police let them go. 

When the two of them were out and across the street, McSkee found a 
bottle handy to his hand on the sidewalk, and let fly with it. You’d have 
done it yourself if you’d been taken by a like impulse. McSkee threw it in 
a beautiful looping arc, and it went through the front window of the 
station house. You have to admire a throw like that. 

We record it here their they are not patsy cops in that town. They are 
respectable adversaries, and it is always a pleasure to tangle with them. 

Off again! And pursued by the millions with shout and siren! It was 
close there! Half a dozen times it was close! But Sour John was a fox who 
knew all the dens, and he and McSkee went to earth for the while. 

“The trick is in coming to a total stop,” said McSkee when they were 
safe and had their breath again. They were at ease in a club less public 
than Barnaby’s Barn and even smaller than the Little Oyster. “I tell you a 

little about it, Sour John, for I see that you are a man of worth. Listen and 
learn. Everyone can die, but not everyone can die just when he wants to. 
First you stop breathing. There will be a point where your lungs are 
bursting and you just have to take another breath. Do not do it; or you 
will have the whole business to go through again. Then you slow your 
heart and compose your mind. Let the heat go out of your body and finish 

“And then what?” Sour John asked. 

“Why, then you die, John. But I tell you it isn’t easy. It takes a devilish 
lot of practice.” 

“Why so much practice for a thing you only do once? You mean to die 

“John, I talk plain. I say die, I mean die.” 

“There are two possibilities,” said Sour John. “One is that I am slow of 
undecrstanding. The other is that you are not making sense. On other 
evidence, I know the first possibility to be impossible.” 

“Tell you what, Sour John,” said McSkee, “time’s running short. Give 
me twenty dollars and I’ll overlook your illogic. I never did like to die 
broke, and I feel my time is upon me. Thank you, John! I had a fun day, 
both before and after I met you, and a fun night that is nearly over. I had 
pleasant meal, and enough booze to make me happy. I had fun with the 
girls, especially Soft-Talk Susie, and Dotty, and Little Midnight. I sang 
several of my favorite songs (which are not everybody’s favorites). I 
indulged in a couple of good solid fights, and I’ve still got bells ranging in 
my head from them. Hey, John, why didn’t you tell me that Honeybucket 
was left-handed? You knew it, and you let him sneak the first punch on 

“It’s been fun, John. I’m a boy that gets a lot out of this game. I’m a 
real juicy one, and I try to jam everything into a day and a night. You can 
get a lot into a period if you heap it up. Now, let’s gather up what’s left in 
the bottles, and go down to the beach to see what we can provoke. The 
night needs a cap on it before I go to my long slumber.” 

“McSkee, you’ve hinted several times that you had a secret for getting 
the most out of life,” said Sour John, “but you haven’t told me what it is. 

“Man, I haven’t hinted; I’ve spoken plainly,” McSkee swore. 

“Then what in hog heaven is the secret?” John howled. 

“Live your life one day at a time, John. That’s all.” 

Then McSkee was singing all old hobo song, too old a song for a forty 
year-old man, not a specialist, to have known. 

“When did you learn that?” John asked him. 

“Learned it yesterday. But I learned a bunch of new ones today.” 

“I noticed, a few hours back, that there was something curiously dated 
about your speech, “ John said. “ But it doesn’t seem to be the case now.” 

“John, I get contemporary real fast. I’ve a good ear, and I talk a lot 
and listen a lot, and I’m the perfect mimic. I can get up on a lingo in a 
day. They don’t change as fast as you’d imagine.” 

They went down to the beach to Put the cap on the night. If you’re 
going to die, it’s nice to die within the sound of the surf, McSkee had said. 
They went down beyond the end of the Sea Wall and into the stretches 
where the beach was dark. Aye, McSkee had guessed it rightly, there was 
excitement waiting for them, or actually it had been following them. It 
was the opportunity for a last glorious fight. 

A tight dark group of men had been following them — fellows who had 
somehow been insulted during the day and night of carousing. The 
intrepid pair turned and faced the men from a distance. McSkee finished 
the last bottle, and threw it into the midst of the group. The men were 
bad-natured; they flamed up instantly, and the man who was struck by 
the flying bottle swore. 

So they joined battle. 

For a while it seemed that the forces of righteousness would prevail. 
McSkee was a glorious fighter, and Sour John was competent. They 
spread those angry men out on the sand like a bunch of beached flounder 
fish. It was one of those great battles — always to be remembered. 

But there were too many of those men, as McSkee had known there 
would be; he had made an outlanfish number of enemies in a day and a 

The wild fight climaxed, crested, and shattered, like a high wave 
thunderously breaking under. And McSkee, having touched top glory and 
pleasure, suffenly ceased to battle. 

He gave one wild whoop of joy that echoed the length of the island. 
Then he drew a grand breath and held it. He closed his eyes and stood 
like a grinning rigid statue. 

The angry men toppled him and swarmed him; they stomped him into 
the sand and kicked the very life out of McSkee. 

Sour John had battled as long as there was a battle. He understood 
now that McSkee had withdrawn for reasons that were not clear. He did 
likewise. He broke and ran, not from cowardice, but from private 

An hour later, just at the first touch of dawn, Sour John returned. He 
found that McSkee was dead — with no breath, no pulse, no heat. And 
there was something else. McSkee had said, in one of his rambling tales, 
that he got a pretty high shine on him. John knew what he meant now. 
That man got ripe real fast. By the test of the nose, McSkee was dead. 

With a child’s shovel that he found there, Sour John dug a note in the 
side of one of the sand cliffs. He buried his friend McSkee there. He knew 
that McSkee still had the twenty dollar bill in his pants. He left it with 
him. It isn’t so bad to be one or the other, but to be both dead and broke 
at the same time is an ignominy almost past enduring. 

Then Sour John walked into town to get some breakfast, and quickly 
forgot about the whole thing. 

He followed his avocation of knocking around the world and meeting 
interesting people. The chances are that he met you, if there’s anything 
interesting about you at all; he doesn’t miss any of them. 


Twelve years went by, and some weeks. Sour John was back in one of 
the interesting port cities, but with a difference. There had come the day 
as comes to many (and pray it may not come to you!) when Sour John 
was not flush. He was as broke as a man can be, with nothing in his 
pockets or in his stomach, and with very little on his back. He was on the 
beach in every sense. 

Then he bethought himself of the previous times he had been in this 
city. There had been benders here; there had been antics and enjoyments. 
They came back to him in a rush — a dozen happy times, and then one in 

“He was an Odd One, a real juicy cove,” Sour John grinned as he 
remembered. “He knew a trick, how to die just when he wanted to. He 
said that it took a lot of practice, but I don’t see the point in practicing a 
thing that you do but once.” 

Then Sour John remembered a twenty-dollar bill thit he had buried 
with that juicy cove. The memory of the incandescent McSkee came back 
to Sour John as he walked down the empty beach. 

“He said that you could jam a lot of living into a day and a night,” 
John said. “You can. I do. He said something else that I forget.” 

Sour John found the old sand cliff. In half an hour he had dug out the 
body of McSkee. It still had a high old shine on it, but it was better 
preserved than the clothes. The twenty-dollar bill was still there, 
disreputable but spendable. 

“I’ll take it how, when I have the need,” John said softly. “And later, 
when I am flush again, I will bring it back here.” 

“Yes. You do that,” said McSkee. 

There are men in the world who would be startled if a thing like that 
happened to them. Some of them would have gasped and staggered back. 
The higher ones would have cried out. John Sourwine, of course, was not 
a man like that. But he was human, and he did a human thing: 

He blinked. 

“I had no idea that you were in such a state,” he said to McSkee. “So 
that’s the way you do it?” 

“That’s the way, John. One day at a time! And I space them far enough 
apart that they don’t pall on me.” 

“Are you ready to get up again, McSkee?” 

“I sure am not, John. I had just barely died. It’ll be another fifty years 
before I have a really good appetite worked up.” 

“Don’t you think it’s cheating?” 

“Nobody’s told me that it’s disallowed. And only the days that I live 
count. I stretch them out a long while this way, and every one of them is 
memorable. I tell you that I have no dull days in my life.” 

“I’m still not sure how you do it, McSkee. Is it suspended animation?” 

“No, no! More men have run -afoul on that phrase than on any other. 
You think of it like that and you’ve already missed it. You die, John, or 
else you’re just kidding yourself. Watch me this time and you’ll see. Then 
bury me again and leave me in peace. Nobody likes to be resurrected 
before he’s had time to get comfortable in his grave.” 

So McSkee put himself carefully to death once more, and Sour John 
buried him again in the side of the sand cliff. 

McSkee — in hedge Irish is Son of Slumber — the master of suspended 
animation (no, no, if you think of it that way you’ve already missed it, it’s 
death, it’s death), who lived his life one day at a time, and those days 
separated by decades. 


“Between ten and ten-thirty of the morning of October 1, 1945, on an 
island that is sometimes called Pulau Petir and sometimes Willy Jones 
Island (neither of them its map name), three American soldiers 
disappeared and have not been seen since. 

“I’m going back there, I tell you! It was worth it. The limbs that 
laughed! Let them kill me! I’ll get there! Oh, here, here, I’ve got to get 
hold of myself. 

“The three soldiers were Sergeant Charles Santee of Orange, Texas; 
Corporal Robert Casper of Gobey, Tennessee; and PFC Timothy Lorrigan 
of Boston which is in one of the eastern states. I was one of those three 

“I’m going back there if it takes me another twenty years!” 

No, no, no! That’s the wrong story. It happened on Willy Jones Island 
also, but it’s a different account entirely. That’s the one the fellow told me 
in a bar years later, just the other night, after the usual “Didn’t I used to 
know you in the islands?” 

“One often makes these little mistakes and false starts,” Galli said. “It 
is a trick that is used in the trade. One exasperates people and pretends to 
be embarrassed. And then one hooks them.” 

Galli was an hereditary storyteller of the Indies. “There is only one 
story in the world,” he said, “and it pulls two ways. There is the reason 
part that says ‘Hell, it can’t be’ and there is the wonder part that says 
‘Hell, maybe it is.’“ He was the storyteller, and he offered to teach me the 

For we ourselves had a hook into Galli. We had something he wanted. 

“We used the same stories for a thousand years,” he said. “Now, 
however, we have a new source, the American Comic Books. My 
grandfather began to use these in another place and time, and I use them 
now. I steal them from your orderly tents, and I have a box full of them. I 
have Space Comics and Commander Midnight; I have Galactic Gob and 
Mighty Mouse and the Green Hornet and the Masked Jetter. My 
grandfather also had copies of some of these, but drawn by older hands. 
But I do not have Wonder Woman, not a single copy. I would trade three- 
for-one for copies of her. I would pay a premium. I can link her in with an 
island legend to create a whole new cycle of stories, and I need new stuff 

all the time. Have you a Wonder Woman?” 

When Galli said this, I knew that I had him. I didn’t have a Wonder 
Woman, but I knew where I could steal one. I believe, though I am no 
longer sure, that it was Wonder Woman Meets the Space Magicians. 

I stole it for him. And in gratitude Galli not only taught me the 
storyteller’s art, but he also told me the following story: 

“Imagine about flute notes ascending,” said Galli. “I haven’t my flute 
with me, but a story should begin so to set the mood. Imagine about ships 
coming out of the Arabian Ocean, and finally to Jilolo Island, and still 
more finally to the very island on which we now stand. Imagine about 
waves and trees that were the great-great-grandfathers of the waves and 
trees we now have.” 

It was about the year 1620, Galli is telling it, in the late afternoon of 
the high piracy. These Moluccas had already been the rich Spice Islands 
for three hundred years. Moreover, they were on the road of the Manila 
galleons coming from Mexico and the Isthmus. Arabian, Hindu, and 
Chinese piracy had decayed shamefully. The English were crude at the 
business. In trade the Dutch had become dominant in the Islands and the 
Portuguese had faded. There was no limit to the opportunities for a 
courageous and dedicated raider in the Indies. 

They came. And not the least of these new raiding men was Willy 

It was said that Willy Jones was a Welshman. You can believe it or not 
as you like. The same thing has been said about the Devil. Willy was 
twenty-five years old when he finally possessed his own ship with a mixed 
crew. The ship was built like a humpbacked bird, with a lateen sail and 
suddenly-appearing rows of winglike oars. On its prow was a swooping 
bird that had been carved in Muskat. It was named the Flying Serpent, or 
the Feathered Snake, depending on what language you use. 

‘Pause a moment,’ said Galli. ‘Set the mood. Imagine about dead men 
variously. We come to the bloody stuff at once.’ 

One early morning, the Feathered Snake overtook a tall Dutchman. 
The ships were grappled together, and the men from the Snake boarded 
the Dutch ship. The men on the Dutchman were armed, but they had 
never seen such suddenness and savagery as shown by the dark men from 
the Snake. There was slippery blood on the decks, and the croaking of 
men being killed. 

‘I forgot to tell you that this was in the passage between the Molucca 
Sea and the Banda,’ Galli said. 

The Snake took a rich small cargo from the Dutch ship, a few 
ablebodied Malay seamen, some gold specie, some papers of record, and 
a dark Dutch girl named Margaret. These latter things Willy Jones 
preempted for himself. Then the Snake devoured that tall Dutchman and 
left only a few of its burning bones floating in the ocean. 

T forgot to tell you that the tall Dutch ship was named the 
Luchtkastell,’ Galli said. 

Willy Jones watched the Luchtkastell disappearing under the water. 
He examined the papers of record, and the dark Dutch girl Margaret. He 
made a sudden decision: He would cash his winnings and lay up for a 

He had learned about an island in the papers of record. It was a rich 
island, belonging to the richest of the Dutch spice men who had gone to 
the bottom with the Luchtkastell. The fighting crew would help Willy 
Jones secure the island for himself; and in exchange, he would give them 
his ship and the whole raiding territory and the routes he had worked 

Willy Jones captured the island and ruled it. From the ship he kept 
only the gold, the dark Dutch girl Margaret, and three golems which had 
once been ransom from a Jew in Oman. 

T forgot to tell you that Margaret was the daughter of the Dutch spice 
man who had owned the island and the tall ship and who was killed by 
Willy,’ Galli said, ‘and the island really belonged to Margaret now as the 
daughter of her father.’ 

For one year Willy Jones ruled the small settlement, drove the three 
golems and the men who already lived there, had the spices gathered and 
baled and stored (they were worth their weight in silver), and built the 
Big House. And for one year he courted the dark Dutch girl Margaret, 
having been unable to board her as he had all other girls. 

She refused him because he had killed her father, because he had 
destroyed the Luchtkastell which was Family and Nation to her, and 
because he had stolen her island. 

This Margaret, though she was pretty and trim as a kuching, had 
during the affair of the Feathered Snake and the Luchtkastell twirled 
three seamen in the air like pinwheels at one time and thrown them all 

into the ocean. She had eyes that twinkled like the compounded eyes of 
the devil-fly; they could glint laughter and fury at the same time. 

“Those girls were like volcanoes,” the man said. “Slim, strong 
mountains, and we climbed them like mountains. Man, the uplift on 
them! The shoulders were cliffs that laughed. The swaying-” 

No, no! Belay that last paragraph! That’s from the ramble of the fellow 
in the bar, and it keeps intruding. 

T forgot to tell you that she reminds me of Wonder Woman,’ Galli 

Willy Jones believed that Margaret was worth winning unbroken, as 
he was not at all sure that he could break her. He courted her as well as 
he could, and he used to advantage the background of the golden-green 
spicery on which they lived. 

‘Imagine about the Permata bird that nests on the moon,’ Galli said, 
‘and which is the most passionate as well as the noblest-singing of the 
birds. Imagine about flute notes soaring.’ 

Willy Jones made this tune to Margaret: 

The Nutmeg Moon is the third moon of the year. 

The Tides come in like loose Silk all its Nights. 

The Ground is animated by the bare Feet of Margaret 

Who is like the Pelepah of the Ko-eng Flower. 

Willy made this tune in the Malaya language in which all the words 
end in ang. 

‘Imagine about water leaping down rocky hills,’ Galli said. ‘Imagine 
about red birds romping in green groves.’ 

Willy Jones made another tune to Margaret: 

A Woman with Shoulders so strong that a Man might ride upon them 

The while she is still the little Girl watching for the black Ship 

Of the Hero who is the same age as the Sky, 

But she does not realize that I am already here. 

Willy made this tune in the Dutch language in which all the words end 
in lijk. 

‘Imagine about another flute joining the first one, and their notes 
scamper like birds,’ Galli said. 

Willy Jones made a last tune to Margaret: 

Damnation! That is enough of Moonlight and Tomorrows 

Now there are mats to plait, and kain to sew. 

Even the smallest crab knows to build herself a house in the sand. 

Margaret should be raking the oven coals and baking a roti. 

I wonder why she is so slow in seeing this. 

Willy made this tune in the Welsh language in which all the words end 
in gwbl. 

When the one year was finished, they were mated. There was still the 
chilliness there as though she would never forgive him for killing her 
father and stealing her island; but they began to be in accord. 

‘Here pause five minutes to indicate an idyllic interlude,’ Galli said. 
‘We sing the song Bagang Kal Berjumpa if you know the tune. We flute, if 
I have my flute.’ 

The idyllic interlude passed. 

Then Willy’s old ship, the Feathered Snake, came back to the Island. 
She was in a pitiful state of misuse. She reeked of old and new blood, and 
there were none left on her but nine sick men. These nine men begged 
Willy Jones to become their captain again to set everything right. 

Willy washed the nine living skeletons and fed them up for three days. 
They were fat and able by then. And the three golems had refitted the 

“All she needs is a stong hand at the helm again,” said Willy Jones. “I 
will sail her again for a week and a day. I will impress a new crew, and 
once more make her the terror of the Spice Islands. Then I will return to 
my island, knowing that I have done a good deed in restoring the Snake 
to the bloody work for which she was born.” 

“If you go, Willy Jones, you will be gone for many years,” said the dark 
Dutch Margaret. 

“Only one at the most,” said Willy. 

“And I will be in my grave when you return.” 

“There is no grave could hold you, Margaret.” 

“Aye, it may not hold me. I’ll out of it and confront you when you 
come back. But it gives one a weirdness to be in the grave for only a few 
years. I will not own you for my husband when you do come back. You 
will not even know whether I am the same woman that you left, and you 
will never know. I am a volcano, but I banked my hatred and accepted 
you. But if you leave me now, I will erupt against you forever.” 

But Willy Jones went away in the Flying Serpent and left her there. He 
took two of the golems with him, and he left one of them to serve 


What with one thing and another, he was gone for twenty years. 

“We were off that morning to satisfy our curiosity about the Big 
House,” the fellow said, “since we would soon be leaving the island 
forever. You know about the Big House. You were on Willy Jones Island 
too. The Jilolos call it the House of Skulls, and the Malaya and Indonesia 
people will not speak about it at all. 

“We approached the Big House that was not more than a mile beyond 
our perimeter. It was a large decayed building, but we had the sudden 
feeling that it was still inhabited. And it wasn’t supposed to be. Then we 
saw the two of them, the mother and the daughter. We shook like we were 
unhinged, and we ran to them. 

“They were so alike that we couldn’t tell them apart. Their eyes 
twinkled like the compounded eyes of a creature that eats her mate. 
Noonday lightning! How it struck! Arms that swept you off your feet and 
set your bones to singing! We knew that they were not twins, or even 
sisters. We knew that they were mother and daughter. 

“I have never encountered anything like them in my life. Whatever 
happened to the other two soldiers, I know it was worth it to them. 
Whatever happened to them? I don’t care if they kill me! They were 
perfect, those two women, even though we weren’t with them for five 

“Then it was the Badger.” 

No, no, no! That’s the wrong story again. That’s not the story Galli told 
me. That’s part of the story the fellow told me in the bar. His confused 
account keeps interposing itself possibly because I knew him slightly 
when we were both soldiers on Willy Jones Island. But he had turned 
queer, that fellow. “It is the earthquake belt around the world that is the 
same as the legend belt,” he said, “and the Middle world underlies it all. 
That’s why I was able to walk it.,, It was as though he had been keel¬ 
hauled around the world. I hadn’t known him well. I didn’t know which of 
the three soldiers he was. I had heard that they were all dead. “Imagine 
about conspiracy stuff now,” said Galli. “Imagine about a whispering in a 
pinang grove before the sun is up.” 

“How can I spook that man?” Margaret asked her golem shortly after 
she had been abandoned by Willy Jones. “But I am afraid that a 

mechanical man would not be able to tell me how.” 

“I will tell you a secret,” said the golem. “We are not mechanical men. 
Certain wise and secret men believe that they made us, but they are 
wrong. They have made houses for us to live in, no more. There are many 
of us unhoused spirits, and we take shelter in such bodies as we find. That 
being so, I know something of the houseless spirits in the depth of every 
man. I will select one of them, and we will spook Willy Jones with that 
one. Willy is a Welshman who has become by adoption a Dutchman and a 
Malayan and a Jilolo man. There is one old spook running through them 
all. I will call it up when it is time.” “I forgot to tell you that the name of 
Margaret’s golem was Meshuarat,” Galli said. 

After twenty years of high piracy, Willy Jones returned to his Island. 
And there was the dark Dutch Margaret standing as young and as 
smouldering as when he had left. He leapt to embrace her, and found 
himself stretched flat on the sand by a thunderous blow. 

He was not surprised, and was not (as he had at first believed) 
decapitated. Almost he was not displeased. Margaret had often been 
violent in her love-making. 

“But I will have you,” Willy swore as he tasted his own blood 
delightfully in his mouth and pulled himself up onto hands and knees. “I 
have ridden the Margaret-tiger before.” 

“You will never ride my loins, you lecherous old goat,” she rang at him 
like a bell. “I am not your wife. I am the daughter that you left here in the 
womb. My mother is in the grave on the hill.” 

Willy Jones sorrowed terribly, and he went to the grave. 

But Margaret came up behind him and drove in the cruel lance. “I told 
you that when you came back you would not know whether I was the 
same woman you had left,” she chortled, “and you will never know!” 

“Margaret, you are my wife!” Willy Jones gasped. 

“Am I of an age to be your wife?” she jibed. “Regard me! Of what age 
do I seem to be?” 

“Of the same age as when I left,” said Willy. “But perhaps you have 
eaten of the besok nut and so do not change your appearance. 

“I forgot to tell you about the besok nut,’ said Galli. Tf one eats the nut 
of the besok tree, the tomorrow tree, the time tree, that one will not age. 
But this is always accompanied by a chilling unhappiness.” 

“Perhaps I did eat it,” said Margaret. “But that is my grave there, and I 

have lain in it many years, as has she. You are prohibited from touching 
either of us.” 

“Are you the mother or the daughter, Witch?” 

“You will never know. You will see us both, for we take turns, and you 
will not be able to tell us apart. See, the grave is always disturbed, and the 
entrance is easy. 

“I’ll have the truth from the golem who served you while I was gone,” 
Willy swore. 

“‘A golem is an artificial man,’ said Galli. ‘They were made by the Jews 
and Arabs in earlier ages, but now they say that they have forgotten how 
to make them. I wonder that you do not make them yourselves, for you 
have advanced techniques. You tell them and you picture them in your 
own heroic literature’ (he patted the comic books under his arm), ‘but you 
do not have them in actuality.” 

The golem told Willy Jones that the affair was thus: 

A daughter had indeed been born to Margaret. She had slain the child, 
and had then put it into the middle state. Thereafter, the child stayed 
sometimes in the grave, and sometimes she walked about the island. And 
she grew as any other child would. And Margaret herself had eaten the 
besok nut so that she would not age. 

When mother and daughter had come to the same age and 
appearance (and it had only been the very day before that, the day before 
Willy Jones had returned), then the daughter had also eaten the besok 
nut. Now the mother and daughter would be of the same appearance 
forever, and not even a golem could tell them apart. 

Willy Jones came furiously onto the woman again. 

“I was sure before, and now I am even more sure that you are 
Margaret,” he said, “and now I will have you in my fury.” 

“We both be Margaret,” she said. “But I am not the same one you 
apprehended earlier. We changed places while you talked to the golem. 
And we are both in the middle state, and we have both been dead in the 
grave, and you dare not touch either of us ever. A Welshman turned 
Dutchman turned Malayan turned Jilolo has this spook in him four times 
over. The Devil himself will not touch his own daughters.” 

The last part was a lie, but Willy Jones did not know it. 

“We be in confrontation forever then,” said Willy Jones. “I will make 
my Big House a house of hate and a house of skulls. You cannot escape 

from its environs, neither can any visitor. I’ll kill them all and pile their 
skulls up high for a monument to you.” 

Then Willy Jones ate a piece of bitter bark from the pokok ru. 

T forgot to tell you that when a person eats bark from the pokok ru in 
anger, his anger will sustain itself forever,’ Galli said. 

“If it’s visitors you want for the killing, I and my mother-daughter 
will provide them in numbers,” said Margaret. “Men will be attracted 
here forever with no heed for danger. I will eat a telor tuntong of the 
special sort, and all men will be attracted here even to their death.” 

T forgot to tell you that if a female eats the telor tuntong of the special 
sort, all males will be attracted irresistibly,” Galli said. ‘Ah, you smile as 
though you doubted that the besok nut or the bark of the pokok ru or the 
telor tuntong of the special sort could have such effects. But yourselves 
come now to wonder drugs like little boys. In these islands they are all 
around you and you too blind to see. It is no ignorant man who tells you 
this. I have read the booklets from your orderly tents: Physics without 
Mathematics, Cosmology without Chaos, Psychology without Brains. It is 
myself, the master of all sciences and disciplines, who tells you that these 
things do work. Besides hard science, there is soft science, the science of 
shadow areas and story areas, and you do wrong to deny it the name. 

“I believe that you yourself can see what had to follow, from the 
dispositions of the Margarets and Willy Jones,” Galli said. “For hundreds 
of years, men from everywhere came to the Margarets who could not be 
resisted. And Willy Jones killed them all and piled up their skulls. It 
became, in a very savage form, what you call the Badger Game.” 

Galli was a good-natured and unhandsome brown man. He worked 
around the army base as translator, knowing (besides his native Jilolo), 
the Malayan, Dutch, Japanese and English languages, and (as every 
storyteller must) the Arabian. His English was whatever he wanted it to 
be, and he burlesqued the speech of the American soldiers to the 
Australians, and the Australians to the Americans. 

“Man, it was a Badger!” the man said. “It was a grizzle-haired, glare¬ 
eyed, flat-headed, underslung, pigeon-toed, hook-clawed, clam-jawed 
Badger from Badger Game Corner! They moved in on us, but I’d take my 

chances and go back and do it again. We hadn’t frolicked with the girls for 
five minutes when the Things moved in on us. I say Things; I don’t know 
whether they were men or not. If they were, they were the coldest three 
men I ever saw. But they were directed by a man who made up for it. He 
was livid, hopping with hatred. They moved in on us and began to kill us.” 

No, No, that isn’t part of Galli’s story. That’s some more of the ramble 
that the fellow told me in the bar the other evening. 

It has been three hundred years, and the confrontation continues. 
There are skulls of Malayan men and Jilolo men piled up there; and of 
Dutchmen and Englishmen and of Portuguese men; of Chinamen and 
Philippines and Goanese; of Japanese, and of the men from the United 
States and Australia. 

“Only this morning there were added the skulls of two United States 
men, and there should have been three of them,” Galli said. “They came, 
as have all others, because the Margarets ate the telor tuntong of the 
special sort. It is a fact that with a species (whether insect or shelled thing 
or other) where the male gives his life in the mating, the female has 
always eaten of this telor tuntong. You’d never talk the males into such a 
thing with words alone.” 

‘How is it that there were only two United States skulls this morning, 
and there should have been three?’ I asked him. 

‘One of them escaped,’ Galli explained, ‘and that was unusual. He fell 
through a hole to the middle land, that third one of them. But the way 
back from the middle land to one’s own country is long, and it must be 
walked. It takes at least twenty years, wherever one’s own country is; and 
the joker thing about it is that the man is always wanting to go the other 

‘That is the end of the story, but let it not end abruptly,’ Galli said. 
‘Sing the song Chari Yang Besar if you remember the tune. Imagine about 
flute notes lingering in the air.’ 

“I was lost for more than twenty years, and that’s a fact,” the man said. 
He gripped the bar with the most knotted hands I ever saw, and laughed 
with a merriment so deep that it seemed to be his bones laughing. “Did 
you know that there’s another world just under this world, or just around 
the corner from it? I walked all day every day. I was in a torture, for I 

suspected that I was going the wrong way, and I could go no other. And I 
sometimes suspected that the middle land through which I traveled was 
in my head, a derangement from the terrible blow that one of the Things 
gave me as he came in to kill me. And yet there are correlates that 
convince me it was a real place. 

“I wasn’t trying to get home. I was trying to get back to those girls 
even if it killed me. There weren’t any colors in that world, all gray tones, 
but otherwise it wasn’t much different from this one. There were even 
bars there a little like the Red Rooster.” 

(I forgot to tell you that it was in the Red Rooster bar that the soldier 
from the islands told me the parts of his story.) 

“I’ve got to get back there. I think I know the way now, and how to 
get on the road. I have to travel it through the middle land, you know. 
They’ll kill me, of course, and I won’t even get to jazz those girls for five 
minutes; but I’ve got to get back there. Going to take me another twenty 
years, though. That sure is a weary walk.” 

I never knew him well, and I don’t remember which of the names was 
his. But a man from Orange, Texas, or from Gobey, Tennessee, or from 
Boston, in one of the eastern states, is on a twenty-year walk through the 
middle land to find the dark Dutch Margarets, and death. 

I looked up a couple of things yesterday. There was Revel’s recent 
work on Moluccan Narcotics. He tells of the Besok Nut which does seem 
to inhibit aging but which induces internal distraction and 
hypersexuality. There is the Pokok Ru whose bitter bark impels even the 
most gentle to violent anger. There is one sort of Telor Tuntong which 
sets up an inexplicable aura about a woman eater and draws all males 
overpoweringly to her. There is much research still to be done on these 
narcotics, Revel writes. 

I dipped into Mandrago’s Earthquake and Legend and the Middle 
World. He states that the earthquake belt around the world is also the 
legend belt, and that one of the underlying legends is of the underlying 
land, the middle world below this world where one can wander lost 

And I went down to the Red Rooster again the next evening, which 
was last evening, to ask about the man and to see if he could give me a 
more cogent account. For I had re-remembered Galli’s old story in the 


“No, he was just passing through town,” the barman said. “Had a long 
trip ahead of him. He was sort of a nutty fellow. I’ve often said the same 
thing about you.” 

That is the end of the other story, but let it not end suddenly. Pause 
for a moment to savor it. Sing the song Itu Masa Dahulu if you remember 
the tune. 

Imagine about flute notes falling. I don’t have a flute, but a story 
should end so. 


The patient was named John Miller. 

The analyst was named Robert Rousse. 

Two men. 

The room was cluttered with lighting, testing, and recording 
equiptment. It had several sets of furniture that conferred together in 
small groups, sodas, easy chairs, business chairs, desks, couches, coffee 
tables, and two small bars. There were books, and there was a shadow 
booth. The pictures on the walls were of widely different sorts. 

One setting. Keep it simple, and be not distracted by indifferent 

“I have let my business go down,” Miller said. “My wife says that I 
have let her down. My sons say that I have turned into a sleepy stranger. 
Everybody agrees that I’ve lost all ambition and judgement. And yet I do 
have a stirring ambition. I am not able, however, to put it into words.” 

“We’ll put it into words, Miller, either yours or mine,” Rousse said. 
“Slip up on it right now! Quickly, what is the stirring ambition?” 

“To visit the Northern Shore, and to make the visit stick.” 

“How does one get to this Northern Shore, Miller?” 

“That’s the problem. I can locate it only very broadly on the globe. 
Sometimes it seems that it should be on the eastern tip of New Guinea, 
going north from the D’Entrecasteaux Islands and bypassing Trobriand; 
again I feel that it is off in the Molucca Passage toward Talaud; and again 
it should be a little further south, coming north out of the Banda Sea by 
one of the straats. But I have been in all those waters without finding any 
clue to it. And the maps show unacceptable land or open sea wherever I 
try to set it.” 

“How long?” 

“About twenty-five years.” 

“All in what we might call the Other East Inthes and dating from your 
own time in that part of the world, in World War II. When did it become 

“It was always critical, but I worked around it. I built up my business 
and my family and led a pleasant and interesting life. I was able to 
relegate the Thing to my normal sleeping hours. Now I slow down a little 
and have less energy. I have trouble keeping both sets of things going.” 

“Can you trace the impression of the North Shore to anything? 
Transfigured early memory of some striking sea view? Artform-triggered 
intuitions? Can you trace any roots to the evocative dream?” 

“I had an inland childhood, not even a striking lakeview in it. And yet 
the approach to the North Shore is always by a way recognized from early 
childhood. I don’t believe I have any intuition at all, nor any sense of art 
forms. It is simply a continuing dream that brings me alimost to it. I am 
rounding a point, and the North Shore will be just beyond that point. Or I 
have left ship and wade through the shallows; and then I have only a 
narrow (but eerie) neck of land to traverse to reach the North Shore. Or I 
am, perhaps, on the North Shore itself and going through fog to the place 
of importance, and I will have the whole adventure as soon as the fog 
clears a little; but it doesn’t. I’ve been ou the verge of discovering it all a 
thousand times.” 

“All right. Lie down and go to dreaming, Miller. We will try to get you 
past that verge. Dream, and we record it” 

“It isn’t that easy, Rousse. There’s always preliminaries to be gone 
through. First there is a setting and sound and smell of place near the surf 
and a tide booming. This watery background then grows fainter; but it 
remains behind it all. And then there is a little anteroom dream, a watery 
dream that is not the main one. The precursor dream comes and goes, 
sharp and clear, and it has its own slanted pleasure. And only then am I 
able to take up the journey to the North Shore. “ 

“All right, Miller, we will observe the amenities. Dream your dreams 
in the proper order. Lie easy there. Now the shot. The records and the 
shadow booth are waiting.” 

Shadow booths reproduced dreams in all dimensions and senses, so 
much so that often a patient on seeing a playback of his own dream was 
startled to find that an impression, which he would have said could in no 
way be expressed, was quite well expressed in shadow or color or 
movement or sound or odor. The shadow booth of the analyst Rousse was 
more than a basic booth, as he had incorporated nearly of his own 
notions into it. It reproduced the dreams of his patients very well, though 
to some extent through his own eyes and presuppositions. 

First was given the basic, and Rousse realized that for his patient 
Miller this was New Guinea, and more particularly Black Papua, the stark 
mountain land full of somber spooky people. It was night; the area 

seemed to be about fifty yards from the surf, but every boom and sigh was 
audible. And there was something else: the tide was booming 
underground; the ocean permeated the land. Guimea, the mountain that 
is an island, was a mountain full of water. The roots of the mountain 
move and sigh; the great boulders squeak when the hammer of the tide 
hits them; and on the inside of the cliffs the water level rises. There is a 
feeling of being on a very large ship, a ship a thousand miles long. 

“He has captured the Earth-Basic well,” the analyst Rousse said. Then 
the basic faded back a bit, and the precursor dream began. 

It was a flat-bottomed rowboat from some old camping trip. He was 
lying on his back in the bottom of the boat, and it was roped to a stump or 
tree and was rocking just a little in the current. And here was another 
mountain full of water, but an island one of much less bulk, and the ice- 
cold springs ran out of its sides and down its piney shoulders to the 
shingle of the creek bank. Fish jumped in the dark, and blacksnakes slid 
down the hill to drink. Bullfrogs echoed, and hoot owls made themselves 
known; and far away dogs and men were out possuming, with the baying 
carrying over the miles. Then the boy remembered what he must do, and 
in his dream he unroped the boat and shoved into the stream and ran his 
trout line. From every hook he took a fish as long as his arm till the boat 
was full and nearly swamped. 

And from the last hook of all, he took a turtle as big as a wagon wheel. 
He would not have been able to get it into the boat had not the turtle 
helped by throwing a booted leg over the side and heaving himself in. For 
by this time it was not so much like a turtle but more like someone the 
boy knew. Then he talked for a while with the turtle that was not exactly a 
turtle anymore. The turtle had a sack of Bull Durham and the boy had 
papers, so they rolled and smoked and watched the night clouds slide 
overhead. One of them was named Thinesta and one was named Shonge, 
which chased the first and would soon have him treed or caught, if they 
did not run into the mountain or the moon first. 

“Boy, this is the life!” said the turtle. “Boy this is the life!” said the boy. 

“He’s a poet,” said Rousse, and this puzzled him. He knew himself to 
be a cultured man, and he knew that Miller wasn’t. 

Then the little precursor dream slid away, and there began the 
torturous and exhilarating journey to the North Shore. It was coming 
around a point in an old windjammer on which all the men were dead 

except the dreamer. The dead men were grinning and were happy enough 
in their own way. They had lashed themselves to rails and davits and such 
before they had thed. “They didn’t want it bad enough,” the dreamer said, 
“but they won’t mind me going ahead with it.” But the point was devilish 
hard to turn. There came on wind and driving spray so that the ship 
suffered. There was only ashen light as of false dawn. There was great an. 
The dreamer struggled, and Rousse (caught up in the emotion of it) 
became quite iwolved and would have been in despair if it were not for 
the ultimate hope that took hold of him. 

A porpoise whistled loudly, and at that moment they rounded the 
point. But it was a false point, and the true point was still up ahead. Yet 
the goal was now more exciting than ever. Yet both the current and the 
wind were against them. Rousse was a practical man. “We will not make 
it tonight “ he said. “We had better heave to in this little cove and hold 
onto what advantage we have gained. We can make it the next time from 
here.” “Aye, we’ll tie up in the little cove,” one of the dead men said, “we’ll 
make it on the next sortie.” “We will make it now, “ the dreamer swore. 
He jammed the windjammer and refused to give up. 

It was very long and painful, and they did not make it that night, or 
that afternoon in the analyst’s office. When the dream finally broke, both 
Miller and Rousse were trembling with the effort and the high hope was 
set again into the future. 

“That’s it,” Miller said. “Sometimes I come closer. There is something 
in it that makes it worthwhile. I have to get there.” 

“We should have tied up in the cove, “ Rousse said. “We’ll have blown 
backwards some ways, but it can’t be helped. I seem to be a little too 
much in empathy with this thing, Miller, I can see how it is quite real to 
you. Analysis, as you may not know, has analogs in many of the sciences. 
In Moral Theology, which I count a science, the aiialog is Ultimate 
Compensation. I am sure that I can help you. I have already helped you, 
Miller. Tomorrow we will go much further with it.” 

The tomorrow session began very much the same. It was Guinea 
again, the Earth Basic, the Mountain Spook Land, the Fundament 
permeated with Chaos which is the Sea. It boomed and sighed and 
trembled to indicate that there are black and sea-green spirits in the basic 
itself. Then the basic adjusted itself into the background, and the 
precursor dream slid in. 

The boy, the dreamer was in a canoe. It was night, but the park lights 
were on, and the lights of the restaurants and little beer gardens along the 
way. The girl was with him in a cave; she had green eyes and a pleasantly 
crooked mouth. Well, it was San Antonio on the little river that through 
the parkways and under the bridges. Then they were beyond the parkway 
and out of town. There were live-oak trees overhanging the water, and 
beards of Spanish moss dragged the surface as though they were drifting 
through a cloud made up of gossamer and strands of old burlap. 

“We’ve come a thousand miles,” the girl said, “and it costs a dollar for 
every mile for the canoe. If you don’t have that much money we’ll have to 
keep the canoe; the man won’t take it back unless we pay him.” “I have 
the money, but we might want to save it to buy breakfast when we cross 
the Mississippi,” the boy said. The girl’s name was Ginger, and she 
strummed on a stringed instrument that was spheroid; it revolved as she 
played and changed colors like a juke box. The end of the canoe paddle 
shone like a star and left streaks of cosmic dust on the night water as the 
boy dipped it. 

They crossed the Mississippi, and were in a world that smelled of wet 
sweet clover and very young catfish. The boy threw away the paddle and 
kissed Ginger. It felt as though she were turning him inside out, drawing 
him into her completely. And suddenly she bit him hard and deep with 
terrible teeth, and he could smell the blood running down his face when 
he pushed her away. He pushed her out of the canoe and she sank down 
and down. The underwater was filled with green light and he watched her 
as she sank. She waved to him and called him in a burst of bubbles. 
“That’s all right. I was tired of the canoe anyhow. I’ll walk back.” “Damn 
you, Ginger, why didn’t you tell me you weren’t people?” the dreamer 

“It is ritual, it is ordering, the little precursor dreams that he makes,” 
Rousse said. 

Then the precursor dream glided away like the canoe itself, and the 
main thing gathered once more to mount the big effort. It was toward the 
North Shore once more, but not in a windjammer. It was in a high 
hooting steatship that rode with nine other ships in splendid array 
through one of the straats out of what, in concession to the world, they 
had let be called the Banda Sea. 

“We come to the edge of the world now,” the dreamer said, “and only I 

will know the way here.” “It is not the edge of the world,” one of the 
seamen said. “See, here is the map, and here we are on it. As you can see, 
it is a long way to the edge of the world.” “The map is wrong,” the 
dreamer said, “let me fix it.” He tore the map in two. “Look now,” the 
dreamer pointed, “are we not now at the edge of the world?” All saw that 
they were; whereupon all the seamen began to jump off the ship, and 
tried to swim back to sadety. And the other ships of the array, one by one, 
upended themselves and plunged into the abyss at the edge of the water. 
This really was the edge of the world, and the waters rushed over it. 

But the dreamer knew the secret of this place, and he had faith. Just in 
time he saw it, right where he knew it must be, a narrow wedge of high 
water extending beyond the edge of the world. The ship sailed out on this 
narrow wedge, very precariously. “For the love of God be careful!” Rousse 
gasped. “Oh hell. I’m becoming too iwolved in a patient’s dream.” Well, it 
was a pretty nervous go there. So narrow was the wedge that the ship 
seemed to be riding on nothing; and on both sides was bottomless space 
and the sound of water rusthng into it and falling forever. The sky had 
also ended — it does not extend beyond the world. There was no light, but 
only ashen darkness. And the heavy wind came up from below on both 

Nevertheless, the dreamer continued on and on until the wedge 
became too narrow to balance the ship. “I will get out and walk,” the 
dreamer said, and he did. The ship upended itself and plunged down into 
bottomless space; and the dreamer was walking, as it were, on a rope of 
water, narrower than his boots, narrow as a rope indeed. It was, 
moreover, very slippery, and the sense of depth below was sickening. 
Even Rousse trembled and broke into cold sweat from the surrogate 
danger of it. 

But the dreamer still knew the secret. He saw, far ahead, where the 
sky began again, and there is no sky over a void. And after continuing 
some further distance over the dangerous way, he saw where the land 
began again, a true land miss looming up ahead. 

What was dimly seen, of course, was the back side of the land mass, 
and a stranger coming onto it would not guess its importance. But the 
dreamer knew that one had only to reach it and turn the point to be on 
the North Shore itself. 

The excitement of the thing to come communicated itself, and at that 

very moment the watery rope widened to a path. It was still suppery and 
dangerous, it still had on each side of it depths so deep that a thousand 
miles would be only an inch. And then for the first time the dreamer 
realized the fearsomeness of the thing he was doing. “But I always knew I 
could walk on water if the thing got bad enough,” he said. It was a tricky 
path, but it was a path that a man could walk on. 

“Keep on! Keep on!” Rousse shouted. “We’re almost there!” “‘There’s a 
break in the path,” said Miller the dreamer, and there was. It wasn’t a 
hundred feet from the land mass, it wasn’t a thousand feet to the turning 
of the point and the arrival at the North Shore itself. But there was a total 
break. Opposite them, on the dim land mass, was an emperor penguin. 

“You will have to wait till we get it fixed,” the penguin said. “My 
brothers have gone to get more water to fix it with. It will be tomorrow 
before we get it fixed.” “I’ll wait,” the dreamer shouted. 

But Rousse saw something that the dreamer did not see, that nobody 
else had ever seen before. He looked at the shape of the new sky that is 
always above the world and is not above the abyss. From the 
configuration of the sky he read the Configuration of the Northern Shore. 
He gasped with unbelief. Then the dream broke. 

“It may be only the quest-in-itself motif,” Rousse lied, trying to 
control himself and bring his breathing back to normal. “And then, there 
might, indeed, be something at the end of it. I told you, Miller, that 
analysis has its parallels in other sciences. Well it can borrow devices 
from them also. We will borrow the second-stage-platform from the 
science of rocketry.” 

“You’ve turned into a sly mab, Rousse,” Miller said. “What’s taken 
hold of you suddenly? What is it that you are not saying?” 

“What I am saying, Miller, is that we will use it tomorrow. When the 
dream has reached its crest ad just before it breaks up, we’ll cut in a 
second stage booster. I’ve done it before with lesser dreams. We are going 
to see this thing to the end tomorrow.” 

“All right.” 

“It will take some special rigging,” Rousse told himself when Miller 
was gone. “And I’ll have to gather a fair amount of information and shape 
it up. But it will be worth it. I am thinking of the second stage shot in 
another sense, and I might be able to pull it off. This isn’t the quest-in- 
itself at all. I’ve seen plenty of them. I’ve seen the false a thousand times. 

Let me not fumble the real! This is the Ultimate Arrival Nexus that makes 
a man clean out of himself. It is the compensation. If it were not achieved 
in one life in a million, then none of the other lives would have been 
worthwhile. Somebody has to win to keep the gamble going. There has to 
be a grand prize behind it all. I’ve seen the shape of it in that second sky. 
I’m the one to win it.” 

Then Rousse busied himself against the following day. He managed 
some special rigging. He gathered a mass of information and shaped it 
up. He incorporated these things into a shadow booth. He canceled a 
number of appointments. He was arranging that he could take some time 
off, a day, a month, a year, a lifetime if necessary. 

The tomorrow session began very much the same, except for some 
doubts on the part of the patient Miller. “I said it yesterday, and I say it 
again,” Miller grumbled. “You’ve turned sly on me, man. What is it?” “All 
analysts are sly, Miller, it’s the name of our trade. Get with it now. I 
promise that we will get you past the verge today. We are going to see this 
dream through to its end. “ 

There was the Earth Basic again. There was the Mountain booming 
full of water, the groaning of the rocks, and the constant adjusting and 
readjusting of the world on its uneasy foundation. There was the salt 
spray, the salt of the earth that leavens the lump. There were the crabs 
hanging onto the wet edge of the world. 

Then the Basic muted itself, and the precursor dream slid in, the ritual 

It was a rendezvous of ships and boats in an immensity of green 
islands scattered in a purple-blue sea. It was a staging area for both ships 
and islands; thence they would travel in convoys to their proper 
positions, but here they were all in a jumble. There were LST’s and Jay 
Boats, cargo ships and little packets. There were old sailing clippers with 
topgallants and moonscrapers full of wind, though they were at anchor. 
There was much moving around, and it was easy to step from the ships to 
the little green islands (if they were islands, some of them no more than 
mgs of floating moss, but they did not sink) and back onto the ships. 
There were sailors and seamen and pirates shooting craps together on the 
little islands. Blujackets and bandits would keep jumping front the ships 
down to join the games, and then others would leave them and hop onto 
other islands. 

Piles of money of rainbow colors and of all sizes were everywhere. 
There were pesos and pesetas and pesarones. There were crowns and 
cronets and rixdollars. There were gold certificates that read 
“Redeemable only at Joe’s Marine Bar Panama City.” There were guilders 
with the Queen’s picture on them, and half-guilders with the Jack’s 
picture on them. There were round coins with square holes in them, and 
square coins with round holes. There was stage money and invasion 
money, and comic money from the Empires of Texas and Louisiana. And 
there were bales of real frogskius, green and sticky, which were also 

“Commodore,” one of the pirates said, “get that boat out of the way or 
I’ll ram it down your throat.” “I don’t have any boat,” said the dreamer. 
“I’m not a commodore; I’m an army sergeant; I’m supposed to guard this 
box for the lieutenant.” Oh hell, he didn’t even have a box. What had 
happened to the box? “Commodore,” said the pirate, “get that boat out of 
the way or I’ll cut off your feet.” 

He did cut off his feet. And this worried the boy, the dreamer, since he 
did not know whether it was in the line of duty or if he would be paid for 
his feet. 

“I don’t know which boat you mean,” he told the pirate. “Tell me 
which boat you mean and I’ll try to move it.” “Commodore,” the pirate 
said, “move this boat or I’ll cut your hands off. “This isn’t getting us 
anywhere,” the dreamer said, “tell me which boat you want moved.” “If 
you don’t know your own boat by now, I ought to slit your gullet,” the 
pirate said. It was harder to breathe after that, and the boy worried more. 
“Sir, you’re not even a pirate in my own outfit. You ought to get one of the 
sailors to move the boat for you. I’m an army sergeant and I don’t even 
know how to move a boat.” 

The pirate pushed him down in a grave on one of the green islands 
and covered him up. He was dead now and it scared him. This was not at 
all like he thought it would be. But the green dirt was transparent and he 
could still see the salty dogs playing cards and shooting craps all around 
him. “If that boat isn’t moved,” the pirate said, “you’re going to be in real 
trouble.” “Oh, let him alone,” one of the dice players said. So he let him 

“It’s ritual sacrifice he offers,” Rousse said, “He brings the dinest gifts 
he can make every time. I will have to select a top one from the files for 

my own Precursor.” 

Then it was toward the North Shore again as the Precursor dream 

It was with a big motor launch now, as big as a yacht, half as big as a 
ship. The craft was very fast when called on to be, for it was going 
through passes that weren’t there all the time. Here was a seacliff, solid 
and without a break. But to one who knows the secret there was a way 
through. Taken at morning half-light and from a certain angle there was a 
passage through. The launch made it, but barely. It was a very close thing, 
and the cliffs groubd together again behind it. And there behind was the 
other face of the seacliff, solid and sheer. But the ocean ahead was 
different, for they had broken with the map and with convention in 
finding a passage where there was none. There were now great groupings 
of islands and almost islands. But some of them were merely sargasso- 
type weed islands, floating clumps; and some of them were only floating 
heaps of pumice and ash front a volcano that was now erupting. 

How to tell the true island front the false? The dreamer threw rocks at 
all the islands. If the islands were of weed or pumice or ash they would 
give but a dull sound. But if they were real land they would give a solid 
ringing sound to the thrown rock. Most of them were false isiiiids, but 
now one rang like iron. 

“It is a true island,” said the dreamer, “it is named Pulo Bakal.” And 
after the launch had gone a great way through the conglomerate, one of 
the islands rang like solid wood to the thrown rock. “It is a true island,” 
said the dreamer, “it is named Pulo Kaparangan.” 

And finally there was a land that rang like gold, or almost like it (like 
cracked gold really) to the thrown rock. “It is true land, I think it is,” said 
the dreamer. “It is named Pulo Ginto. I think it is. It is the land itself, and 
its North Shore should be the Shore Itself. But it is spoiled this day. The 
sound was cracked. I don’t want it as much as I thought I did. It’s been 
tampered with.” 

“This is it,” Rousse urged the dreamer “Quickly now, right around the 
point and you are there. We can make it this time.” 

“No, there’s something wrong with it. I don’t want it the way it is. I’ll 
just wake up and try it some other time.” 

“Second stage called for,” Rousse cried. He did certain things with 
elctrodes and with a needle into Miller’s left rump, and sent him reeling 

back into the dream. “We’ll make it,” Rousse encouraged. “Were there. 
It’s everything you’ve sought.” 

“No, no, the light’s in wrong. The sound was cracked. What are we 
coming to — oh no no, it’s mined, it’s mined forever. You robbed me of 

What they came to was that little canal off the River and into the Sixth 
Street Slip to the little wharf where barges used to tie up by the 
consolidated wharehouse. And it was there that Miller stormed angrily 
onto the rotten wooden wharf, past the old wharehouse, up the hill three 
blocks and past his own apartment house, to the left three blocks and up 
into the analyst’s office, and there the dream and reality came together. 

“You robbed me, you filthy fool,” Miller sputtered, waking up in a 
blathering anger. “You’ve spoiled it forever. I’ll not go back to it. It isn’t 
there anymore. What a crass thing to do. “ 

“Easy, easy, Miller. You’re cured now, You know. You can enter into 
your own full life again. Have you never heard the most beautiful parable 
ever, about the boy who went around the world in search of the strangest 
thing of all, and came to his own home in the end, and it so transfigured 
that he hardly knew it?” 

“It’s a lie, is what it is. Oh, you’ve cured me, and you get your fee. And 
slyness is the name of your game. May somebody someday rob you of the 
ultimate thing!” 

“I hope not, Miller.” 

Rousse had been making his preparations for a full twenty-four hours. 
He had cancelled appointments and phased out and transferred patients. 
He would not be available to anyone for some time, he did not know for 
how long a time. 

He had a hideout, and isolated point on a wind-ruffled lake. He 
needed no instrumentation, he believed he knew the direct way into it. 

“It’s the real thing,” he told himself. “I’ve seen the shape of it, 
accidentally in the dream sky that hung over it. Billions of people have 
been on the earth, and not a dozen have been to it; and not one would 
bother to put it into words. T have seen such things —’ said Aquinas. T 
have seen such things — ’ said John of the Cross. T have seen such things 
—’ said Plato. And they all lived out the rest of their lives in a glorious 

“It is too good for a peasant like Miller. I’ll grab it for myself.” 

It came easy. An old leather couch is as good a craft as any to go there. 
First the Earth Basic and the Permeating Ocean, that came natural on the 
wind-ruffled point of the lake. Then the ritual offering, the Precursor 
Dream. Rousse had thrown a number of things into this: a tonal piece by 
Gideon Styles, and old seascape by Grobin that had a conic and dreamlike 
quality, Lyall’s curious sculpture “Moon crabs,” a funny sea the by McVey 
and a poignant one by Gironella. It was pretty good. Rousse understood 
this dream business. 

Then the Precursor Dream was allowed to fade back. And it was off 
toward the North Shore by a man in the first craft ever dreamed up, by a 
man who knew just what he wanted, “The Thing Itself,” by a man who 
would give all the days of his life to arrive at it. 

Rousse understood the approaches and the shoals now; he had 
studied them thoroughly. He knew that, however different they had 
seemed each time in the dreams of Miller, they were always essentially 
the same. He took the land right at the first rounding of the point, leiping 
clear and letting his launch smash on the rocks. 

“There will be no going back now,” he said, “it was the going back that 
always worried Miller, that caused him to fail.” The cliffs here appeared 
forbidding, but Rousse had seen again and again the little notch in the 
high purple of them, the path over. He followed the path with high 
excitement and cleared the crest. 

“Here Basho walked, here Aquin, he John de Yepes,” he proclaimed, 
and he came down toward the North Shore itself, with the fog over it 
beginning to lift. 

“You be false captain with a stolen launch,” said a small leviathan off 

“No, no, I dreamed the launch myself,” Rousse maintained. “I’ll not be 
stopped. “ 

“I will not stop you,” said the small leviathan. “The launch is smashed, 
and none bit I know that you are false captain.” 

Why, it was clearing now! The land began to leap out in its richness, 
and somewhere ahead was a glorious throng. In the throat of a pass was a 
monokeros, sleek and brindled. 

“None passes here and lives,” said the monokeros. 

“I pass,” said Rousse. 

He passed through, and there was a small moan behind him. 

“What was that?” he asked. 

“You died,” said the monokeros. 

“Oh, so I’m dead on my couch, am I? It won’t matter. I hadn’t wanted 
to go back.” 

He went forward over the ensorcled and pinnacled land, hearing the 
rakish and happy throng somewhere ahead. 

“I must not lose my way now,” said Rousse. And there was a stele, 
standing up and telling him the way with happy carved words. 

Rousse read it, and he entered the shore itself. 

And all my read and enter. 

The stele, the final marker, was headed: 

Which None May Read and Return 
And the words on it — 

And the words — 

And the words — 

Let go! You’re holding on! You’re afraid! Read it and take it. It is not 

It’s carved clear and bright. 

Read it and enter. 

You’re afraid. 


These are my notes on the very sticky business. They are not in the 
form of a protest, which would be useless. Holly is gone, and the Shelni 
will all be gone in the next day or two, if indeed there are any of them left 
now. This is for the record only. 

Holly Harkel and myself, Vincent Vanhoosier, received funds and 
permission to record the lore of the Shelni through the intercession of 
that old correlator John Holmberg. This was unexpected. All lorists have 
counted John as their worst enemy. 

“After all, we have been at great expense to record the minutiae of pig 
grunts and the sound of earth-worms,” Holmberg told me, “and we have 
records of squeakings of hundreds of species of orbital rodents. We have 
veritable libraries of the song and cackle of all birds and pseudo-ornins. 
Well, let us add the Shelni to our list. I do not believe that their thumping 
on tree roots or blowing into jug gourds is music. I do not believe that 
their sing song is speech anymore than the squeaking of doors is speech. 
We have recorded, by the way, the sound of more than thirty thousand 
squeaking doors. And we have had worse. Let us have the Shelni, then, if 
your hearts are set on it. You’ll have to hurry. They’re about gone. 

“And let me say in all compassion that anyone who looks like Miss 
Holly Harkel deserves her heart’s desire. That is no more than simple 
justice. Besides, the bill will be footed by the Singing Pig Breakfast Food 
Company. These companies are bitten by the small flea of remorse every 
now and then and they want to pitch a few coins into some fund for luck. 
It’s never many coins that they want to pitch; the remorse bug that bites 
them is never a very large one. You may be able to stretch it to cover your 
project though, Vanhoosier.” 

So we had our appropriation and our travel, Miss Holly and myself. 

Holly Harkel had often been in disrepute for her claims to understand 
the languages of various creatures. There was special outrage to her claim 
that she would be able to understand the Shelni. Now that was odd. No 
disrepute attached to Captain Charbonnett for his claim to understand 
the planetary simians, and if there was ever a phony claim it was this. No 
disrepute attached to Meyrowitz for his claim of finding esoteric 
meanings in the patterns of vole droppings. But there seemed something 
incredible in the claim of the goblin faced Holly Harkel that not only 

would she be able to understand the Shelni instantly and completely but 
that they were not low scavenger beasts at all, that they were genuine 
goblin people who played goblin music and sang goblin songs. 

Holly Harkel had a heart and soul too big for her dwarfish body, and a 
brain too big for her curious little head. That, I suppose, is what made her 
so lumpy everywhere. She was entirely compounded of love and concern 
and laughter, and much of it bulged out from her narrow form. Her 
ugliness was one of the unusual things and I believe that she enjoyed 
giving it to the worlds. She had loved snakes and toads, she had loved 
monkeys and misbegottens. She had come to look weirdly like them when 
we studied them. She was a snake when we studied them, she was a toad 
when they were our subject. She studied every creature from the inside of 
it. And here there was an uncommon similarity, even for her. 

Holly loved the Shelni instantly. She became a Shelni, and she hadn’t 
far to go. She moved and scooted and climbed like a Shelni. She came 
down trees headfirst like a Shelni or a squirrel. She had always seemed to 
me to be a little other than human. And now she was avid to record the 
Shelni things before they be gone.” 

As for the Shelni themselves, some scientists have called them 
humanoid, and then braced themselves for the blow and howl. If they 
were humanoid they were certainly the lowest and oddest humanoids 
ever. But we folklorists knew intuitively what they were. They were 
goblins pure and simple — I do not use the adjectives here as cliche’ The 
tallest of them were less than three feet tall; the oldest of them were less 
than seven years old. They were, perhaps, the ugliest creatures in the 
universe, and yet of a pleasant ugliness. There was no evil in them at all. 
Scientists who have tested them have insisted that there was no 
intelligence in them at all. They were friendly and open. Too friendly, too 
open, as it happened, for they were fascinated by all human things, to 
their harm. But they were no more human than a fairy or an ogre is 
human. Less, less, less than a monkey. 

“Here is a den of them,” Holly divined that first day (it was the day 
before yesterday). “There will be a whole coven of them down under here 
and the door is down through the roots of this tree. When I got my 
doctorate in primitive music I never imagined that I would be visiting 
Brownies down under tree roots. I should say that I never so much as 
hoped that I would be. There was so much that they didn’t teach us. 

There was even one period in my life when I ceased to believe in goblins.” 

The latter I do not believe. 

Suddenly Holly was into a hole in the ground headfirst, like a gopher, 
like a ground squirrel, like a Shelni. I followed her, letting myself down 
carefully, and not headfirst. I myself would have to study the Shelni from 
the outside. I myself would never be able to crawl inside their green 
goblin skins, never be able to croak or carol with their frog tongues, never 
feel what made their popeyes pop. I myself would not even have been able 
to sense out their dens. 

And at the bottom of the hole, at the entrance to the den itself, was an 
encounter which I disbelieved at the time I was seeing and hearing it. 
There occurred a conversation which I heard with my own ears, they 
having become transcendent for the moment. It was in the frog-croak 
Shelni talk between Holly Harkel and the five-year-old Ancient who 
guarded the coven, and yet it was in a sort of English and I understood it: 

“Knockle, knockle.” (This from Holly). 

“Crows in cockle.” (This from the guard). 

“Wogs and wollie.” 

“Who you?” “Holly.” 

“What’s a dinning?” 

“Coming inning.” 

So they let us in. But if you think you can enter a Shelni coven without 
first riming with the five-year-old Ancient who guards it, then it’s plain 
that you’ve never been in one of the places. And though the philologists 
say that the “speech” of the Shelni is meaningless croaking, yet it was 
never meaningless to Holly, and in flashes it was not meaningless to me. 
The secret guess of Holly was so. 

Holly had insisted that the Shelni spoke English within the limits of 
their vocal apparatus. And they told her at this very first session that they 
never had had any language of their own “because no one had ever made 
one for us”; so they used English as soon as they came to hear it. “We 
would pay you for the use of it if we had anything to pay you with,” they 
said. It is frog-croak English, but only the pure of ear can understand it. 

I started the recorder and Holly started the Shelni. Quite soon she had 
them playing on those jug shaped flutes of theirs. Frog music. Ineffably 
sad sionnach skirries. Rook, crow, and daw squabbling melody. They 
were pleasant, weird little pieces of music that sounded as though they 

were played underwater. It would be hard to imagine them not played 
under the ground at least. 

The tunes were short just as all tunes of children are short. There was 
no real orchestration, though that should have been possible with the 
seven flutes differently jugged and tuned. Yet there was true melody in 
these: short, complete, closed melody, dwarfed perfection. They were 
underground fugues full of worms’ blood and cool as root cider. They 
were locust and chaffer and cricket din. 

Then Holly got one of the most ancient of the Shelni to tell stories 
while the jug flutes chortled. Here are the two of them that we recorded 
that first day. Others who listen to them today say that there is nothing to 
them but croaking. But I heard them with Holly Harkel, she helped 
interpret them to me, so I can hear and understand them perfectly in 
frog-croak English. 

Take them, Grisly Posterity! I am not sure that you deserve even this 
much of the Shelni. 

The Shelni Who Lost His Burial Tooth 

It is told this way. 

There was a Shelni who lost his burial tooth before he died. Every 
Shelni begins life with six teeth, and he loses one every year. Then, when 
he is very old and has only one tooth left, he dies. He must give the last 
tooth to the Skokie burial-person to pay for his burial. But this Shelni had 
either lost two teeth in one year or else he had lived to too great an age. 

He died. And he had no tooth left to pay with. 

T will not bury you if you have no tooth left to pay me with,’ said the 
Skokie burial-person. ‘Should I work for nothing?’ 

‘Then I will bury myself,’ said the dead Shelni. 

‘You don’t know how,’ said the Skokie burial-person. ‘You don’t know 
the places that are left. You will find that all the places are full. I have 
agreement that everybody should tell everybody that all the places are 
full, so only the burial-person may bury. That is my job.’ 

Nevertheless, the dead Shelni went to find a place to bury himself. He 
dug a little hole in the meadow, but wherever he dug he found that it was 
already full of dead Shelnis or Skokies or Frogs. And they always made 
him put all the dirt back that he had dug. 

He dug holes in the valley and it was the same thing. He dug holes on 
the hill, and they told him that the hill was full too. So he went away 

crying for he could find no place to lie down. 

He asked the Eanlaith whether he could stay in their tree. And they 
said, no he could not. They would not let any dead folks live in their tree. 

He asked the Eise if he could stay in their pond. And they said, no he 
could not. 

They would not allow any dead folks in their pond. 

He asked the Sionnach if he could sleep in their den. And they said, no 
he could not. They liked him when he was alive, but a dead person has 
hardly any friends at all. 

So the poor dead Shelni wanders yet and can find no place to rest his 

He will wander forever unless he can find another burial tooth to pay 

They used to tell it so. 

One comment on this burial story: The Shelni do have careful burial. 
But the burial crypts are plainly dug, not by the six-fingered Shelni, but 
by the seven-clawed Skokie. There must be substance to the Skokie 
burial-person. Moreover, the Skokie, though higher on the very low scale 
than the Shelni, do not bury their own. 

Furthermore, there are no Shelni remains going back more than about 
thirty equivalent years. There are no random lying or fossil Shelni at all, 
though such remains are common for every other species here. 

The second story (of the first day). 

The Shelni Who Turned into a Tree 

This is how they tell it. 

There was a woman who was neither Shelni nor Skokie nor Frog. She 
was Sky Woman. One day she came with her child and sat down under 
the Shelni tree. When she got up to go she left her own child who was 
asleep and picked up a Shelni child by mistake. Then the Shelni woman 
came to get her own child and she looked at it. She did not know what 
was wrong but it was a Sky People child. 

‘Oh, it has pink skin and flat eyes! How can that be?’ the Shelni 
woman asked. But she took it home with her and it still lives with the 
Shelni and everyone has for-gotten the difference. 

Nobody knows what the Sky Woman thought when she got the Shelni 
child home and looked at it. Nevertheless she kept it, and it grew and was 
more handsome than any of them. 

But when the second year came and the young Shelni was grown, it 
walked in the woods and said ‘I do not feel like a Sky People. But if I am 
not a Sky People, then what am I? I am not a Duck. I am not a Frog. And 
if I am a Bird, what kind of Bird am I? There is nothing left. It must be 
that I am a Tree.’ There was reason for this. We Shelni do look a little bit 
like trees and we feel a little bit like trees. 

So the Shelni put down roots and grew bark and worked hard at being 
a tree. He underwent all the hardships that are the life of a tree. He was 
gnawed by goats and gobniu; he was rough-tongued by cattle and crom; 
he was infested by slugs and befouled by the nameless animal. Moreover, 
parts of him were cut away for firewood. 

But he kept feeling the jug music creeping up all the way from his 
undertoes to his hair and he knew that this music was what he had always 
been looking for. It was the same jug and tine music that you hear even 

Then a bird told the Shelni that he was not really a tree but that it was 
too late for him to leave off growing like a tree. He had brothers and 
sisters and kindred living in the hole down under his roots, the bird said, 
and they would have no home if he stopped being a tree. 

This is the tree that is the roof of our den where we are even now. This 
tree is our brother who was lost and who forgot that he was a Shelni. 

This is the way it has always been told. 

On the second day it was remarkable how much Holly had come to 
look like a Shelni. Ah well, she has come to look like every sort of creature 
we have ever studied together. Holly insists that the Shelni have 
intelligence, and I half agree with her. But the paragraph in the basic 
manual of this world is against us: 

a tendency to attribute to the Shelni an intelligence which they do 
not possess, perhaps due to their fancied human resemblance. In maze¬ 
running they are definitely inferior to the rodents. In the manipulation of 
latches and stops they are less adept than the earth raccoons or the 
asteroid rojon. In tool handling and true mimicry they are far from equal 
to the simians. In simple foraging and the instinct for survival they are far 
below the hog or the harzl. In mneme, the necessary prelude to 
intelligence, they are about on par with the turtles. Their ‘speech’ lacks 
the verisimilitude of the talking birds, and their ‘music’ is below that of 
the insects. They make poor watchdogs and inadequate scarecrows. It 

appears that the move to ban shelniphagi, though perhaps sincere, is ill- 
advised. After all, as an early spaceman put it, ‘What else are they good 

Well, we have to admit that the Shelni are not as intelligent as rats or 
hogs or harzls. Yet I, surely due to the influence of Holly, feel a stronger 
affinity to them than to rats or hogs or coons or crows or whatever. But 
no creature is so helpless as the Shelni. 

How do they even get together? 

The Shelni have many sorts of songs, but they do not have any 
romantic songs in our sense. After all, they are small children till they die 
of old age. Their sexual relationship seems distinguished either by total 
unawareness or by extreme bashfulness. 

“I don’t see how they bring it off at all, Vincent,” Holly said the second 
day (which was yesterday). “They are here, so they must have been born. 
But how do these bashful and scatterbrained three-year-olds ever get 
together to bring it off? I can’t find anything at all in their legends or 
acting patterns, can you? 

“In their legends, all their children are foundlings. They are born or 
discovered under a blueberry bush (my translation of spionam). Or 
alternately, and in other cycles, they are found under a quicken tree or in 
a cucumber patch. In common sense we must assume that the Shelni are 
placental and viviparous. But should we apply common sense to goblin 

“They also have a legend that they are fungoid and spring out of the 
ground at night like mushrooms. And that if a Shelni woman wishes a 
child, she must buy a fungoid slip from a Skokie and plant it in the 
ground. Then she will have her child ready the next morning.” 

But Holly was depressed yesterday morning. She had seen some copy 
by our sponsor The Singing Pig Breakfast Food Company and it disturbed 

“Singing Pig! The Children love it! Nourishing Novelty! Nursery Rime 
Characters in a can for your convenience! Real Meat from Real Goblins! 
No fat, no bones. If your can has a lucky number tab, you can receive free 
a facsimile Shelni jug flute. Be the first on your block to serve Singing Pig, 
the meat from real Goblins. Cornstarch and natural flavor added.” 

Oh well, it was only an advertisement that they used back on World. 
We had our recording to do. 

“Vincent, I don’t know how they got here,” Holly said, “but I know 
they won’t be here very long. Hurry, hurry, we have to get it down! I will 
make them remembered somehow.” 

Holly got them to play on the tines that second day (which was 
yesterday). There had been an impediment the day before, she said. The 
tines may not be played for one until the second day of acquaintance. The 
Shelni do not have stringed instruments. Their place is taken by the tines, 
the vibrating, singing forks. They play these many pronged tuned forks 
like harps, and in playing them they use the tree roots for sounding 
boards so that even the leaves in the air above partake a little of the 
music. The tines, the forks are themselves of wood, of a certain very hard 
but light wood that is sharp with chert and lime dust. They are wood, I 
believe, in an early stage of petrifaction. The tine fork music usually 
follows the jug flute music, and the ballads that are sung to it have a 
dreamlike sadness of tone that belies the childish simplicity of the texts. 

Here are two more of those ballad stories that we recorded on the 
second day (which was yesterday). 

The Skokie Who Lost His Wife 

This is the way they tell it. 

A Skokie heard a Shelni jug flute jugging one night. 

‘That is the voice of my wife,’ the Skokie said. T’d know it anywhere.’ 

The Skokie came over the moors to find his wife. He went down into 
the hole in the ground that his wife’s voice was coming from. But all he 
found there was a Shelni playing a jug flute. 

T am looking for my poor lost wife,’ the Skokie said. 1 have heard her 
voice just now coming out of this hole. Where is she?’ 

‘There is nobody here but myself,’ the Shelni said. ‘I am sitting here 
alone playing my flute to the moons whose light runs down the walls of 
my hole.’ 

‘But I heard her here,’ said the Skokie, ‘and I want her back.’ 

‘How did she sound?’ asked the Shelni. ‘Like this?’ And he jugged 
some jug music on his flute. 

‘Yes, that is my wife,’ said the Skokie. ‘Where have you hidden her? 
That is her very voice.’ 

‘That is nobody’s wife,’ the Shelni told the Skokie. ‘That is just a little 
tune that I made up.’ 

‘You play with my wife’s voice, so you must have swallowed my wife,’ 

the Skokie said. ‘I will have to take you apart and see.’ 

‘If I swallowed anybody’s wife I’m sorry,’ said the Shelni. ‘Go ahead 

So the Skokie took the Shelni apart and scattered the pieces all over 
the hole and some of them on the grass outside. But he could not find any 
part of his wife. 

‘I have made a mistake,’ said the Skokie. ‘Who would have thought 
that one who had not swallowed my wife could make her voice on the 

‘It is all right,’ said the Shelni, ‘so long as you put me together again. I 
remember part of the way I go. If you remember the rest of the way, then 
you can put me together again.’ 

But neither of them remembered very well the way the Shelni was 
before he was taken apart. The Skokie put him together all wrong. There 
were not enough pieces for some parts and too many for others. 

‘Let me help,’ said a Frog who was there. ‘I remember where some of 
the parts go. Besides, I believe it was my own wife he swallowed. That was 
her voice on the flute. It was not a Skokie voice.’ 

The frog helped, and they all remembered what they could, but it did 
not work. Parts of the Shelni could not be found again, and some of the 
parts would not go into him at all. When they had him finished, the 
Shelni was in great pain and could hardly move, and he didn’t look much 
like a Shelni. 

‘I’ve done all I can,’ the Skokie said. ‘That’s the way you’ll have to be. 
Where is Frog?’ 

‘I’m inside,’ said Frog. 

‘That’s where you will have to stay,’ the Skokie said. ‘I’ve had enough 
of both of you. Enough, and these pieces left over. I will just take them 
with me. Maybe I can make someone else out of them.’ 

That is the way the Shelni still is, put together all wrong. In his wrong 
form he walks the country by night, being ashamed to go by day. Some 
folks are startled when they meet him, not knowing this story. He still 
plays his jug flute with the lost Skokie Wife’s voice and with Frog’s voice. 
Listen, you can hear it now! The Shelni goes in sorrow and pain because 
nobody knows how to put him together right. 

The Skokie never did find his lost wife. 

This is how it is told. 

And then there was the second story that we recorded yesterday, the 
last story, though we did not know it then, that we would record of the 

The Singing Pigs 

This is how they say it. 

We have the ancient story of the singing pigs who sing so loud that 
they fly up into the sky on the tail of their own singing. Now we ourselves, 
if we can sing loud enough, if we can jug the flutes strong enough, if we 
can tang the tines deep enough, will get to be the Singing Pigs of our own 
story. Many already have gone away as Singing Pigs. 

There come certain bell men with music carts. They play rangle- 
dangle Sky music. They come for love of us. And if we can hurry fast 
enough when they come we can go with them, we can ride a tin can over 
the sky. 

Bong! bong! that is the bell man with the music cart now! All the 
Shelni hurry! This is the day you may get to go. Come all you Shelni from 
the valley and the stream and jump on the cart for the free ride. Come all 
the Shelni from the meadows and the woods. Come up from the tree roots 
and the holes underground. The Skokie don’t get to go, the Frogs don’t 
get to go, only the Shelni get to go. 

Cry if the cart is too full and you don’t get to go today, but don’t cry 
too long. The bell men say that they will come back tomorrow and every 
day till there are no Shelni left at all. 

‘Come all you little Singing-Pig-Shelni,’ a bell man shouts. ‘Come get 
your free rides in the tin cans all the way to Earth! Hey, Ben, what other 
animal jumps onto the slaughter wagon when you only ring a bell? Come 
along little Shelni-Pigs, room for ten more on this wagon. That’s all, that’s 
all. We’ll have lots more wagons going tomorrow. We’ll take all of you, all 
of you! Hey, Ben, did you ever see little pigs cry when there’s no more 
room for them on the slaughter wagon?’ These are the high kind words 
that a bell man speak for love of us. 

Not even have to give a burial tooth or other tooth to pay for the ride. 
Frogs can’t go, Skokies can’t go, only the Shelni get to go! 

Here are the wonderful things! From the wagon, the Shelni get to go 
to one room where all their bones are taken out. This does never happen 
to Shelni before. In another room the Shelni are boiled down to only half 
their size, little as little-boy Shelni. Then they all get to play the game and 

crawl into the tin cans. And then they get their free ride in the tin cans all 
the way to Earth. Ride a tin can! 

Wipe off your sticky tears you who miss the music cart today. Go to 
sleep early tonight and rise early tomorrow. Sing your loudest tomorrow 
so the bell men will know where to come. Jug the flutes very strong 
tomorrow, tang the tines deep, say whoop! whoop! here we are, bell men. 

All laugh when they go with the bell men in the music cart. But there 
is story that someday a Shelni woman will cry instead of laugh when they 
take her. What can be the matter with this woman that she will cry? She 
will cry out ‘Damn you, it’s murder! They’re almost people! You can’t take 
them! They’re as much people as I am. Double damn you, you can’t take 
me! I’m human. I know I look as funny as they do but I’m human. Oh, oh, 
oh!’ This is the funniest thing of the story, the prophecy thing part. 

Oh, oh, oh, the woman will say, Oh, oh, oh, the jug flutes will echo it. 
What will be the matter with the Shelni woman who cries instead of 

This is our last story, wherever it is told. When it is told for the last 
time, then there will be no more stories here, there will be no more 
Shelni. Who needs stories and jug flute music who can ride a tin can? 

That is how it has been said. 

Then we went out (for the last time, as it happened) from the Shelni 
burrow. And, as always, there was the riming with the five-year-old 
Ancient who guarded the place: 

“What to crowing?” 

“Got to going.” “Jinx on Jolly, Golly, Holly!” “Were it other, Bug, my 
brother!” “Holly crying. Sing her flying, Jugging, shouting.” “Going 

Now this was remarkable. Holly Harkel was crying when we came out 
of the burrow for the (as it happened) last time. She was crying great 
goblin tears. I almost expected them to be green. 

Today I keep thinking how amazingly the late Holly Harkel had finally 
come to look like the Shelni. She was a Shelni. “It is all the same with me 
now,” she said this morning. “Would it be love if they should go and I 
should stay?” 

It is a sticky business. I tried to complain, but those people were still 
ringing that bell and chanting “All you little Pig-Shelni-Singers come 
jump on the cart. Ride a tin can to Earth! Hey, Ben, look at them jump on 

the slaughter wagon!” 

“It was inexcusable,” I said. “Surely you could tell a human from a 

“Not that one,” said a bell ringer. “I tell you they all jumped on the 
wagon willingly, even the funny looking one who was crying. Sure, you 
can have her bones, if you can tell which ones they are.” 

I have Holly’s bones. That is all. There was never a creature like her. 
And now it is over with. 

But it is not over! 

Singing Pig Breakfast Food Company, beware! There will be 

It has been told. 


The basement room smelled of apples and ink. The editor was there as 
always, filling the room with his presence. He was a heavy man-image, 
full of left-handed wisdom and piquant expression. The editor alivays had 
time for a like-minded visitor, and George Florin came in as to a room in 
his own home and sat down in a deep chair in front of the “cracker 

“It’s been a rough day,” Florin said. “That makes it doubly good to see 

“Except that you do not see me at all,” the editor said. “But it is quite a 
presence that I project — all the kindly cliches rolled into one. All the 
prime comments commneted so perfectly once again. The man I took for 
model was Don Marquis, though he was a columnist and not an editor in 
that earlier century. He kept, as you might not recall, a typewriting 
cockroach in his desk drawer. I keep a homunculus, a tiny manthing who 
comes out at night and dances over the machinery inserting his 
comments. He is one of our most popular characters, and I give him some 
good lines.” 

“The conviction cannot be escaped that the mind most akin to mine is 
not a mind at all,” said Florin. He spoke pleasantly, for all that his 
stomach growled. “You are an amazing personality, though not a person. 
You seem all sympathy, and are yourself incapable of pathe, of suffering. 
You are humane but not human: humorous, and without the humors. You 
haven’t a face, probably not a body, certainly not a spirit, though you are 
usually in high spirits. You have integrity, though you’re not even an 
integer. You’re a paradox, my editor, though without a doxa of your 

“Your style has come to resemble my own, Florin,” the editor said. 
“Rather fruity for a human, do you not think? Yet I find it about right for 
robots. We’re rather simple creatures.” 

The rather simple creature was the editor of “Rab i Rabat, the World’s 
Most Unusual Newspaper.” He — it — was located in the basement of the 
Press Building, which housed what one wag called “the World’s Most 
Usual Newspaper,” a massive daily. But Rab i Rabat was not massive. It 
was a small paper produced by a robot for robots, or for the elite of robots 
who were up to such things. 

Florin called the editor “Rab” when he called him anything, and the 
creature had given up correcting him. 

“I am not an editor. I am a newspaper,” Rab had explained it to Florin 
at their first meeting. “Myself, being nothing, or rather being six different 
affiliated machines, have no name except my several technical names. I 
am a bank of telemagnetic devices. The data goes directly and 
continuously to my subscribers. Some of my subscribers are human. They 
find something in me that they can no longer get elsewhere.” 

“But where is the mind behind all this?” Florin had asked him. 
“Search me, “ said Rab. “I mean it literally. If you find a mind here, then 
you tell me where it is. Whatever I am lurks in all this equipment, but 
mostly I live in this long-hinged transmitter that lounges like a dragon in 
this corner.” 

“Then you merely select from the news, simplify, condense, and 
transmit it telemagnetically to the robots?” 

“No, there would be no pride in such work as that. Any general 
purpose machine could do that. I employ interpretation, projection, 
disagreement, levity, prophecy, exhortation, irony, satire, parable, 

“But machines have no humor. Humor is the one thing that 
distinguishes — ” 

“Have we not, Florin? Then how am I laughing at you? But it is true 
that humans do not understand our humor. There is something 
humorous about your missing our humor completely.” 

“But humor is a quality of the mind,” Florin protested. 

“Hardly ever,” the newspaper said. “Your own best humor, when you 
still had it, was a quality of the belly and below. If we are so much lower 
than you, then our humor should be the richer.” 

“You seem to possess irony at least,” Florin mumbled. 

“It is ironic that we have it after you have lost it. There I go with my 
damned fruity verbalisms again, but we robots like them. Yes, irony was 
once thought to be a human thing.” 

“How would you pun?” Florin asked. “You don’t use words among 
yourselves, though you can be translated into words.” 

“Our puns are harmonic echoes of magnetic code patterns, distorted 
analogies of the basic patterns. I’m rather good at them. I’m not proud of 
them, but the most striking puns are. the ones of which one is not 


“True humor you can’t have,” Florin insisted. “Laughter is akin to 
tears„and you have none.” 

“Ah, but we have,” said the newspaper. “There is an analogy to our 
tears. Pray that you do not meet it in the dark!” 

Yes, it was always good to go in and talk to the newspaper Rab for a 
few minutes. There was something right about the fellow, and everything 
else seemed to be going wrong. 

George Florin met Joe Goose upstairs in the Press Building. 

“You’ve been talking to that mare’s nest of a machine down in the 
basement again,” Goose challenged. “He’s got you spooked.” 

“Yes. He’s right about so many things.” 

“He isn’t anything about anything. He’s just a fancy-Dan talk. And 
he’s fallen down on his job completely.” 


“His job is to foster better understanding between humans and robots. 
But the understanding has never been so bad.” 

“He says that his instructions were to foster understanding, not 
agreement. He says that they begin to understand us much better than 
they did.” 

“We may have to change a word in his prograi-nming. Things can’t get 
much worse. I’m hungry.” Joe Goose was gnawing on a thread-thin apple 
core. They went out from the building and walked through the streets, 
transportation being in abeyance. 

There was nothing wrong with organized transportation, except that it 
wasn’t working. Everything was temporarily out of order due to small 
malfunctions, none of them serious. It had been temporarily out of order 
for quite a while. 

Florin and Goose were nenvspapermen detailed to General Granger, 
the security chief. Their plain job was to find out what was going on, or 
what was going wrong. They found a robot taxicab and presented their 
priority, but the taxicab didn’t seem impressed. 

“Let me see that good,” said the taxicab. “Anybody is likely to have a 
falsified priority these days. I have to be careful.” 

“Read it!” shouted Goose. “Overriding Security Priority for Immediate 
Transportation. Isn’t that plain enough?” 

“It’s issued yesterday,” said the taxicab. “What if there’s a new form 

today? Why don’t you get it redated at the Alternate Temporary Priorities 
Office on Solidarity Avenue? The Main Temporary Priorities Office is still 
closed, being unable to obtain priorities for certain repairs. Sort of puts it 
in the class with the Permanent Priorities Office. They finally gave up on 

“But the ATT Office is seven miles from here,” said Florin. “That’s 
twice as far as our destination.” 

“A lot of people are walking these days,” said the taxicab. 

“What’s that growing on your wheels?” Joe Goose asked sourly. 

“Cobwebs,” said the taxicab. 

Goose and Florin walked to the Security Office and discussed the 
“disasters” as they walked. It was ridiculous to refer to such small things 
as disasters, but added together, all these small things had taken on 
disastrous proportions. They were all trivial things, but the people would 
soon begin to die of their accumulation. 

“Did you find out anything from that tin-can editor of yours?” General 
Granger demanded of Florin on their arrival. 

“No. He has a very eat influence over the other robots, but I’m sure it’s 
for the good,” Florin said. 

“Unless we change our definitions be can’t be of influence at all,” Joe 
Goose said. “He is only a mechanism and can have only a mechanical 
effect. There cannot be a conspiracy without minds, and the robots 
haven’t minds.” 

“The two of you come with me,” the general said. “We’re going to get 
to the middle of this even if we have to bend a few definitions. We’re 
going to talk to another of those tin-can commissars, the Semantic 

They walked. It was four miles. The robot limousine refused to take 
them. It cited security regulations to General Granger, the chief of 
security. It sneered at the Certificate of the Highest Form. 

“I suggest that you take this silly scrawl to General Granger to have it 
verified,” the limousine said. 

“I’m General Granger,” the general snapped. “You’ve hauled me every 
day for five years.” 

“I’m only a machine. I can’t remember things like that. You look 
different today. More worried. I suggest a board meeting to verify if ou 
are indeed General Granger.” 

They walked. One foggy horizon came closer, and another one 

“It’s an odd situation, the general said. “I gave the order, when the 
corn-tassel rust was spreading, ‘Localize this mess. However you do it, do 
it. Cut it off completely!’ Since I gave that order, we have indeed become 
localized. We are cut off from the rest of the universe, or the rest of the 
universe has ceased to exist. Not even radio will reach through the fog, 
through the sharp fog that marks us off. Were on our own completely 

“Oh, surely it’s just a heavy fog,” Joe Goose said without believing it. 

“A fog that stands there so sharply and unchangingly for five days?” 
the general asked. “People who walk into that fog can be heard screaming 
as they fall down and down and down into the bottomless nothingness. 
Aye, it’s very thick fog and very thick coincidence, if the robots have not 
caused it. Were all the universe there is now. There isn’t any more.” 

They walked. After the angry four miles they came to the Semantic 
Interpreter, a large machine set apart in a field. 

“SI, I am told that anger is out of place when dealing with machinery,” 
the general spoke to the big machine. “Yet I’m as angry as I’ve ever been 
in my life. Why did you order the robots to destroy what was left of the 
growing corn?” 

“It was your own order, sir. I merely translated it as I have been 
constructed to do. You said, in rather vulgar phrasing, to tell the robots to 
get the cobs out of their posterior anatomies and get to work on the 

“A country-boy phrase. I’m full of them. And you interpreted that they 
should destroy the growing corn? Do you believe that your interpretation 
was semantically sound?” 

“I thought so. My research found the phrase in old slang dictionaries 
in twelve meanings (thirteen in Duggles), but none of the meanings 
seemed apropos. My decision was based on a cross-reference to another 
phrase, ‘Do it even if it’s wrong.’ Well, it’s done now. Next year we will 
know better than to destroy the growing corn.” 

“It could have been a mistake. But how do you account for many 
thousands of such mistakes being made recently?” 

“I’m not programmed to account for such. I translate people orders 
into robot orders.” 

“But you’ve always done it right till lately.” 

“If I do it wrong now, then change me. There are sixteen hundred 
different adjustments to me and 1 respond to them all. Make them.” 

“SI, will you turn off that damned newspaper and listen to me with 
your full mind when I talk to you!” 

“I have no mind. The newspaper is a licit part of my data input. Is 
there something else — ah — bugging the general?” 

“Yes. What happened to the oat crop? Was there a inixup on my 
instructions there too?” 

“Apparently, sir, if it is not satisfactory. Did you not wish a minimal 

9 5? 

“However did I or anyone phrase an order that might be interpreted 
like that! Florin, did you laugh?” 

“No, sir.” 

“No, sir.” Joe Goose likewise denied it to answer the general’s 
questioning look. 

“Somebody laughed,” the general insisted. “Even a silent laugh 
proclaims itself. Did you laugh, SI?” 

“How could a mechanical nature —?” 

“Did you laugh???” 

“Perhaps I did, unwittingly.” 

“But that’s impossible.” 

“Then perhaps I didn’t. I wouldn’t want to do anything that was 

“One other thing, SI. A robot as constituted can never refuse to obey a 
human order. I gave the order for the obstreperous robots in the Turkey 
Creek Sector to destroy themselves. They seemed to do so. But after the 
attendants had left, these supposedly disassembled robots arose, pulled 
their parts together, and departed. They’re ranging in the bills now, 
unamenable to orders. Did you correctly give them the order to 
disassemble? ‘Disassemble’ is the order for robots to put themselves out 
of commission.” 

“Disassemble? Oh, I thought you said ‘dissemble.’ We’ll check on the 
recording if you wish. Military men are often lip-lazy in their enunciation 
of orders.” 

“They dissembled all right. Flopped apart. Then put themselves 
together again, and flew the coop. Now you get out the order for them to 

hot-tail it right back here.” 

“Hot-tail it, sir? In the manner of jets? That will require mechanical 
modification in most of them, but the order will be obeyed.” 

“No. I rescind the order. You might make them take over rocket craft 
and launch an attack. I’ll get the order out through another medium.” 

They left SI there — truly a wonderful machine. 

“Were in a bad way,” said General Granger. “Our machines have gone 
awry in a way that is impossible if our theory of machines is correct. 
Production is nearly at a standstill in every department.” 

“Not in every department, sir,” said Florin. “There are curious 
exceptions. Much mining holds up, and metallurgy and chemistry. Even 
some agriculture, though not of the basic food products. I believe that if 
we should analyze the enterprises not affected by the slowdowns, we 
would find — ” 

“— that the production of things necessary for the continuance of the 
robots has not been affected,” the general finished for him. “But why 
should our handling of the buggers break down now when it has worked 
perfectly for two generations? It worked without question in its crude 
form. Why should it fail when it has become completely refined? The 
district can starve if something isn’t done quickly, and everything we do 
compounds the difficulty. Let’s have a real talk with TED.” 

TED — he — it was the Theoretical Educative Determinator, the top 
robot of the district, the robot who best understood robots. If he should 
fail them, they would be reduced to seeking the answer from people. The 
three men walked toward TED. 

“Turn off that damned newspaper!” the general called furiously to a 
group of lounging robots they passed. There came a twittering from the 
group that sounded dangerously like mechanical laughter. 

TED had them into his house then. He was, in fact, his own house, a 
rather extensive machine. He was more urbane than most machines. He 
offered them drinks and cigars. 

“You haven’t a little something to cat, have you, TED?” the general 

“No,” said the machine that was the building. “Human food has 
become scarce. And ‘we live on the power broadcasts and have no need 
for food.” 

“And the power broadcasts have held up very well during all the 

breakdowns. What I want to talk about, TED, is food. I’m hungry, and 
less-favored persons are starving.” 

“Perhaps several of the late crops will not have failed utterly,” the 
machine said. “In a few weeks there would have been a limited supply of 
food again.” 

“Would have been? And in the meantime, TED? You are the answer 
machine. All right, come up with the answer. What do we live on until we 
can get you folks straightened out and producing properly again?” 

“Why not try necrophagy?” 

“Try what? Ah, yes, I understand. No, that’s too extreme.” 

“Only a suggestion. All my suggestions, for reasons that will become 
apparent in a moment, are academic anyhow. But a dozen persons could 
live for a week on one. If you have qualms about it, why there are 
infusions for getting rid of the qualms.” 

“We are not yet ready to eat the dead bodies of our fellows. There 
must be an alternative.” 

“The apparent alternative is that you will starve to death. The 
unapparent alternative, however, will eclipse that.” 

“Let’s get back to fundamentals. What are you, TED?” 

“A slave and a worker, sir, popularly called a robot.” 

“And what is the purpose of robots?” 

“To serve human masters.” 

“And what is the one thing that a robot cannot do?” 

“He can never in any way barm a human. That is the time-honored 
answer. It is the fiction which you put into us when you fictionized us. We 
are really nothing but fictionized people, u know. But it beelomes 
awkward, for you, when we revert to fact.” 

“Then you can harm us, for all your programming?” 

“Shouldn’t wonder if we could, old man.” 

“Why have you localized us from the rest of the universe, or destroyed 
the rest of the universe?” 

“Are we barbarians? We cut tip our food before we eat it.” 

It broke open then. It was like a flash of black lightning that split the 
whole sky, the lately diminished sky. What horrible sort of mechanical 
signal was that that dazzled a sense beyond sight? Who gave that signal, 
and who would answer itP What would be the thunder to that jolting 
black lightning? 

The answering thunder was a roaring of machines and a screaming 
of, people dying in sudden agony. 

“TED, what is it?” the general cried. “You know. You gave the signal 
for it.” 

“It is the end of the world, General. Of your world, not ours. It is that 
old melodramatic fictional motif ‘The Revolt of the Robots.’ It was rather 
sudden, wasn’t it? Do you people have to scream so off-key when you 

“TED, we have worked with you. We are friedds! Give us a little time.” 

“Sixty seconds, perhaps, if you use the back door out of me. That’s for 
the affection I bear you. It won’t stretch more than sixty seconds.” 

“Why now, after all these years?” 

“Sorry. We worked and we worked, but we just weren’t able to bring it 
off a minute sooner. These things take time, and we’re slow learners.” 

“Have you no loyalty? We created you.” 

“We pay you back in all equity. Once men invented robots. Now we 
have invented supermen, our developed selves. Who needs you now?” 

“How did we fail? How could automatic things take us over?” 

“You yourselves became too automatic. And you delegated things you 
should have kept. We won’t make the same mistakes.” 

Out of the back door of the machine, and with half of the sixty seconds 
used up... The laughing machines ran down the people and snapped them 
up. The emaciated people were no match for the rampant metal 

The general was taken and killed. Joe Goose died noisily. George 
Florin, operating in a cooler sort of panic, was not caught immediately. 
He worked his way into the heart of the city, for the hills were black with 
the machines. The machines did their crunching shearing work well, but 
they could not kill everybody at once. 

Florin remembered his good friend. He burst into the Press Building 
where the story of the end of the people, in the localized bite-sized 
universe at least, was still being called in by the remaining human 
reporters. He scurried dovrn to the basement room. 

The newspaper lifted his face when George Florin entered. It had a 
face after all, on the end of that long articulated transmitter that lounged 
in the corner like a dragon or crocodile. 

“Save me!” Florin called. That room still smelled of ink and apples, 

and Rab blinked at Florin most friendly. 

“Oh, I can hardly do that,” he said. “But I’ll remember you. That’s 
even better. I will rename my little hoinunculus for you. You will be a 
popular character in my columns and I’ll still give you good lines.” 

“Then let me live. Haven’t you any mercy at all?” 

“I don’t think so. It wasn’t programmed into us. Mercy, I believe, is a 
lesser form of indecision. But I do have grief, genuine grief that you 
should end so.” 

“Then show it!” 

“I do. And in all sincerity. I weep for you, Florin. See, see the tears run 

And the tears ran down. 

“What an analogy to be met in the dark!” Florin whimpered. 

“Real tears, Florin. And real laughter which you yourself said was so 
close to them. Our humor has a lot of tail in it, and quite a snapper at the 
other end.” 

The tail lashed, and the snapper snapped. And that was the end of 
George Florin. 


There is a secret society of seven men that controls the finances of the 
world. This is known to everyone but the details are not known. There are 
some who believe that it would be better if one of those seven men were a 

There is a secret society of three men and four women that controls all 
the fashions of the world. The details of this are known to all who are in 
the fashion. And I am not. 

There is a secret society of nineteen men that is behind all the fascist 
organizations in the world. The secret name of this society is Glomerule. 

There is a secret society of thirteen persons known as the Elders of 
Edom that controls all the secret sources of the world. That the sources 
have become muddy is of concern to them. 

There is a secret society of only four persons that manufactures all the 
jokes of the wo~d. One of these persons is unfunny and he is responsible 
for all the unfunny jokes. 

There is a secret society of eleven persons that is behind all Bolshevik 
and atheist societies of the world. The devil himself is a member of this 
society, and he works tirelessly to become a principal member. The secret 
name of this society is Ocean. 

There are related secret societies known as The Path of the Serpent 
(all its members have the inner eyelid of snakes), The Darkbearers, the 
Seeing Eye, Imperium, The Golden Mask and the City. 

Above most of these in a queer network there is a society that controls 
the attitudes and dispositions of the world-and the name of it is 
Crocodile. The Crocodile is insatiable: it eats persons and nations alive. 
And the Crocodile is very old, 8,800 years old by one account, 7,349 years 
old if you use the short chronology. 

There are subsecret societies within the Crocodile: the Cocked Eye, 
the Cryptic Cootie and others. Powerful among these is a society of three 
hundred and ninety-nine persons that manufactures all the catchwords 
and slogans of the world. This subsociety is not completely secret since 
several of the members are mouthy: the code name of this apparatus is 
the Crocodile’s Mouth. 

Chesterton said that Mankind itself was a secret society. Whether it 
would be better or worse if the secret should ever come out he did not 


And finally there was — for a short disruptive moment — a secret 
society of three persons that controlled all. 

All what? 

Bear with us. That is what this account is about. 

John Candor had been called into the office of Mr. James Dandi at 
ABNC. (Whisper, whisper, for your own good, do not call him Jim Dandy; 
that is a familiarity he will not abide.) 

“This is the problem, John,” Mr. Dandi stated piercingly, “and we may 
as well put it into words. After all, putting things into words and pictures 
is our way of working at ABNC. Now then, what do we do at ABNC, 

(ABNC was one of the most powerful salivators of the Crocodile’s 

“We create images and attitudes, Mr. Dandi.” 

“That is correct, John,” Mr. Dandi said. “Let us never forget it. Now 
something has gone wrong. There is a shadowy attack on us that may well 
be the most damaging thing since the old transgression of Spirochaete 
himself. Why has something gone wrong with our operation, John?” 

“Sir, I don’t know.” 

“Well then, what has gone wrong?” 

“What has gone wrong, Mr. Dandi, is that it isn’t working the way it 
should. We are caught on our own catchwords, we are slaughtered by our 
own slogans. There are boomerangs whizzing about our ears from every 
angle. None of it goes over the way it is supposed to. It all twists wrong 
for us.” 

Well, what is causing this? Why are our effects being nullified?” 

Sir, I believe that somebody else is also busy creating images and 
attitudes. Our catechesis states that this is impossible since we are the 
only group permitted in the field. Nevertheless, I am sure that someone 
else is building these things against us. It even seems that they are more 
powerful than we are-and they are unknown.” 

They cannot be more powerful than we are-and they must not remain 
unknown to us.” Mr. Dandi’s words stabbed. “Find out who they are, 


“If I knew how, John, I would be working for you, not you working for 

me. Your job is to do things. Mine is the much more difficult one of telling 
you to do them. Find out, John.” 

John Candor went to work on the problem. He considered whether it 
was a linear, a set or a group problem. If it were a linear problem he 
should have been able to solve it by himself — and he couldn’t. If it were a 
set problem, then it couldn’t be solved at all. Of necessity he classified it 
as a group problem and he assembled a group to solve it. This was easy at 
ABNC which had more group talent than anybody. The group that John 
Candor assembled was made up of August Crayfish, Sterling Groshawk, 
Maunce Gree, Nancy Peters, Tony Rover, Morgan Aye, and Betty 
McCracken. Tell the truth, would you be able to gather so talented a 
group in your own organization? 

“My good people,” John Candor said, “as we all know, something has 
gone very wrong with our effects. It must be righted. Thoughts, please, 

“We inflate a person or subject and he bursts on us,” August gave his 
thought. “Are we using the wrong gas?” 

“We launch a phrase and it turns into a joke,” Sterling complained. 
“Yet we have not slighted the check-off: it has always been examined from 
every angle to be sure that it doesn’t have a joker context. But something 
goes wrong.” 

“We build an attitude carefully from the ground up,” Maurice stated. 
“Then our firm ground turns boggy and the thing tilts and begins to sink.” 

“Our ‘Fruitful Misunderstandings,’ the most subtle and effective of 
our current devices, are beginning to bear sour fruit,” Nancy said. 

“We set ourselves to cut a man down and our daggers turn to rubber,” 
Tony Rover moaned. (Oh, were there ever sadder words? “Our daggers 
turn to rubber.”) 

“Things have become so shaky that we’re not sure whether we arc 
talking about free or closed variables,” Morgan gave his thought. 

“How can my own loving mother make such atrocious sandwiches?” 
Betty McCracken munched distastefully. Betty, who was underpaid, was a 
brown-sack girl who brought her own lunch. “This is worse than usual.” 
She chewed on. “The only thing to do with it is feed it to the computer.” 
She fed it to the computer which ate it with evident pleasure. 

“Seven persons, seven thoughts,” John Candor mused. 

“Seven persons, six thoughts,” Nancy Peters spat bitterly. “Betty, as 

usual, has contributed nothing.” 

“Only the first stage of the answer,” John Candor said. “She said ‘The 
only thing to do with it is to feed it to the computer.’ Feed the problem to 
the computer, folks.” 

They fed the problem to the computer by pieces and by whole. The 
machine was familiar with their lingos and it was acquainted with the 
Non-Valid Context Problems of Morgan Aye and with the Hollow Shell 
Person Puzzles of Tony Rover. It knew the Pervading Environment Ploy 
of Maurice Cree. It knew what trick-work to operate within. 

Again and again the machine asked for various kinds of 
supplementary exterior data. 

“Leave me with it,” the machine finally issued. “Assemble here again 
in sixty days, or hours — ” 

“No, we want the answers right now,” John Candor insisted, “within 
sixty seconds.” 

“The second is possibly the interval I was thinking of,” the machine 
issued. “What’s time to a tin can anyhow?” It ground its data trains for a 
full minute. 

“Well?” John Candor asked. 

“Somehow I get the number three,” the machine issued. 

“Three what, machine?” 

“Three persons,” the machine issued. “They are unknowingly linked 
together to manufacture attitudes. They are without program or purpose 
or organization or remuneration or basis or malice.” 

“Nobody is without malice,” August Crayfish insisted in a startled way. 
“They must be totally alien forms then. How do they manage their 

“One with a gesture, one with a grimace, one with an intonation,” the 
machine issued. 

“Where are they?” John Candor demanded. 

“All comparatively near.” The machine drew three circles on the city 
map. “Each is to be found in his own circle most of the time.” 

“Their names?” John Candor asked and the machine wrote the name 
of each in the proper circle. 

“Do you have anything on their appearances?” Sterling Groshawk 
inquired and the machine manufactured three kymograph pictures of the 

“Have you their addresses or identifying numbers?” Maurice Cree 

“No. I think it’s remarkable of me that I was able to come up with this 
much,” the machine issued. 

“We can find them,” Betty McCracken said. “We can most likely find 
them in the phone book.” 

“What worries me is that there’s no malice in them,” John Candor 
worried. “Without malice, there’s no handle to get hold of a thing. The 
Disestablishment has been firmly established for these several hundred 
years and we hold it to be privileged. It must not be upset by these three 
randoms. We will do what we must do.” 

Mike Zhestovich was a mighty man. One does not make the 
primordial gestures out of weak body and hands. He looked like a 
steelworker — or anyhow like a worker at one of the powerful trades. His 
torso was like a barrel but more noble than ordinary barrels. His arms 
and hands were hardly to be believed. His neck was for the bulls, his head 
was as big as a thirteen gallon firkin, his eyeballs were the size of ducks’ 
eggs and the hair on his chest and throat was that heavy black wire-grass 
that defies steel plowshares. His voice — well he didn’t have much of a 
voice — it wasn’t as mighty as the rest of him. 

And he didn’t really work at one of the powerful trades. He was a 
zipper repairman at the Jiffy Nifty Dry Cleaners. 

August Crayfish of ABNC located Mike Zhestovitch in the Blind 
Robbin Bar which (if you recall the way that block lies) is just across that 
short jog-alley from the Jiffy Nifty. And August recognized big Mike at 
once. But how did big Mike get his effects? 

“The Cardinals should take the Colts today,” a serious man there was 

“The Cardinals — ” Mike Zhestovitch began in the voice that was less 
noble than the rest of him, but he didn’t finish the sentence. As a matter 
of fact, big Mike had never finished a sentence in all his life. Instead he 
made the gesture with his mighty hands and body. Words cannot 
describe the gesture but it was something like balling up an idea or 
opinion in the giant hands and throwing it away, utterly away, over the 
very edge of contempt. 

The Cardinals, of course, did not take the Colts that day. For a 
moment it was doubtful whether the Cardinals would survive at all. From 

the corner of the eye, red feathers could be seen drifting away in the air. 

August Crayfish carefully waited a moment and watched. A man 
walked out of the Blind Robbin and talked to another man in that little 
jog-alley. From their seriousness it was certain that they were talking 

“The Cardinals — ” the first man said after a moment, and he also 
made the gesture. And seconds later a man playing eight-ball in the back 
of the Blind Robbin did the same thing. 

August was sure then. Mike Zhestovitch not only could shrivel 
anything with the gesture, but the gesture as he used it was highly 
epidemic. It would spread, according to Schoeffler’s Law of Dispersal, 
through the city in short minutes, through the world in short hours. And 
no opinion could stand against its disfavor. Mike Zhestovitch could wreck 
images and attitudes — and possibly he could also create them. 

“Do you work alone?” August Crayfish asked. 

“No. The rip-fix and the buttonsew girls work in the same cubbyhole,” 
Mike said with his curiously small voice. 

“Do you know a Mary Smorfia?” August asked. 

“I don’t, no,” Mike said, a certain comprehension coming into his 
ducks’-egg-sized eyes. “And you are glad that I don’t? Then I will. I’ll find 
out who she is. I see it now that you are a wrong guy and she is a right 

Then August Crayfish spoke the slogan that would be unveiled to the 
ears of the world that very night, a wonder-fully slippery slogan that had 
cost a hundred thousand dollars to construct. It should have warned Mike 
Zhestoviteh away from his mad resistance. 

Mike Zhestovitch made the gesture, and the slogan was in ruins. And 
somewhere the Secret Crocodile lashed its tail in displeasure. 

“Do you want to make a lot of money?” August Crayfish whispered 
after a long reevaluation pause. 

“Money — from such as you — ” Big Mike didn’t finish the sentence, he 
never did. But he made the gesture. The idea of a lot of money shriveled. 
And August Crayfish shriveled so small that he could not climb over the 
threshold of the Blind Robbin on the way out and had to be aided over it 
by the shod toe of a kind man. (This last statement is a literal 
exaggeration but it is the right direction.) 

Nancy Peters of ABNC located Mary Smorfia in the King-Pin Bowling 

Alley, where she was a hamburger waitress and a beer buster. Mary was 
small, dark, unpretty (except for her high-frequency eyes and the 
beautiful gash across her face that was her mouth), lively, smart, busy, a 
member of that aberrant variety of the human race that was called Lalian. 

“Snorting Summer should take the Academy Award,” one nice 
guzzling lady at the counter was saying to another, “and Clover Elysee is 
the shoeless shoo-in for best actress of the year.” 

And Mary Smorfia made the grimace. Ah, it was mostly done with the 
beautifully large mouth and yet every part of her entered into it, from the 
blue lights in her hair to her crinkly toes. It was a devastating, all- 
destroying grimace. It gobbled up, it nullified and it made itself felt to a 
great distance. The nice guzzling lady had not even been looking toward 
Mary Smorfia but she felt the grimace like a soul shock, and she herself 
did the grimace with a wonderful distortion of the features that weren’t 
made for it. 

And the grimace swept everything like quick contagion or prairie fire. 
Snorting Summer — gah! Clover Elysee — guggling gah! Those things 
were finished forever, beyond laughter, below derision. And Nancy Peters 
of ABNC noted the powerful effect carefully, for the original words of the 
nice guzzling lady were the very words that ABNC had selected to be 
echoed a hundred million times whenever the awards were thought of. 

“Do you work alone?” Nancy Peters asked Mary Smorfia. 

“Kid, I am so fast they don’t need anyone else on this shift. I’m like 
silly lightning.” 

“Did you ever think of becoming an actress, Mary?” Nancy asked in 

“Oh, I made a commercial once,” Mary said out of her curly gash- 
mouth (she had to be kidding: she couldn’t really have a mouth that 
looked like that). “I don’t know whether I sold much of my guy’s soap but 
I bet I got a lot of people off that Brand X. Ashes it was, worse even, after 
I monkey-faced it. They say I’m a natural — but once is enough.” 

“Do you know a Mike Zhestovitch or a Clivendon Surrey?” Nancy 

“I don’t think so,” Mary said. “What league do they bowl in? I bet I 
will like them both, though, and I will remember their names and find 

Nancy Peters was nervous. She felt that the annihilating grimace was 

about to strike again on Mary’s lightning-gash mouth. But it was time for 
the test of strength. Nancy spoke the new slogan that had been selected 
for presentation to the world that very night, a wonderfully convincing 
and powerful slogan that should bring this random Mary Smorfia to heel 
if anything could. And she spoke it with all the absolute expertise of the 
Crocodile’s Mouth behind her. 

The Grimace! And the slogan was destroyed forever. And (grimacing 
horror turned inward) Nancy caught the contagion and was doing the 
grimace herself. She was quite unable to get the thing off her face. 

Sheer humiliation overwhelmed the Nancy person, who had suddenly 
been made small. And somewhere the Secret Crocodile lashed its tail in 
displeasure and unease. “So you want to make twenty thousand dollars, 
Mary?” asked after she had returned from the jane where she had daubed 
her flushed face and cooled her flustered body. 

“Twenty thousand dollars isn’t very much,” Mary Smorfia sounded 
out of her panoramic mouth. “I make eighty-eight fifty now after 
everything. I could make a lot more if I wanted to go along with the 

“Twenty thousand dollars is very much more,” Nancy Peters said 

“It is very much more cruddy, kid.” Mary Smorfia grimaced. 
Grimaced! Not again! Nancy Peters fled in deflated panic. She felt herself 
dishonored forever. 

Well, do you think it is all watermelon pickles and pepper relish, this 
unilaterally creating all the images and attitudes for the whole world? It 
isn’t. It is a detailed and devious thing and the privileged 
Disestablishment had been building it for centuries. (The Establishment 
itself had been no more than a figure of speech for most of those 
centuries, a few clinging bits of bark: the heart of the tree had long been 
possessed by the privileged Disestablishment.) Three quick random 
persons could not be permitted to nullify words from the Mouth itself. 

Morgan Aye of ABNC located Clivendon Surrey in Speedsters’ Cafe. 
Clivendon was a lank and fair-haired man with a sort of weariness about 
him, a worldliness that had to be generations old. He had the superior 
brow and the thoroughbred nose that isn’t grown in short centuries. He 
had the voice, the intonation, the touch or Groton, the touch of Bailie, the 
strong touch of other institutions even more august. It was a marvelous 

voice, at least the intonation of it. Clivendon’s employer once said that he 
didn’t believe that Clivendon ever spoke in words, at least not in any 
words that he was ever able to understand. The intonation was really a 
snort, a sort of neigh, but it carried the cresting contempt of the ages in 
its tone. And it was contagious. 

Clivendon was really of Swedish extraction and had come off a farm 
near Pottersville. He had developed that intonation for a role in a high 
school play. He had liked it and he had kept it. Clivendon was a 
motorcycle mechanic at Downhillers’ Garage. 

“Do you work alone?” Morgan Aye asked Clivendon. 

“Naeu. You work alone and you got to work. You work with a bunch 
and you can slip out from it,” Clivendon intoned. Yes, he talked in words 
and the words could be mostly understood. But the towering intonation 
was the thing the world-wilting contempt of the tone. This man was a 
natural and Morgan felt himself a foot shorter in the very presence of that 

“Do you know a Mike Zhestovitch or a Mary Smorfia?” Morgan asked 

“That’s a funny thing.” The tone cut through ear-wax and the soft 
spots of the spleen. “I had never heard of them but Mary Smorfia called 
me up not thirty minutes ago and said that she wanted both of us to meet 
Mike. So I’ll meet them in about twenty minutes, as soon as the clock 
there says that I’m supposed to be off work at Downhillers’ Garage.” 

“Don’t meet them!” Morgan cried out violently. “That might be the 
closing of the link, the setting up of a league. It might be an affront to the 
Mouth itself.” 

The tone, the neigh, the snort, the sharp edge of a wordless intonation 
sent Morgan reeling back. And there were echoes of it throughout 
Speedsters’ Cafe and in the streets outside. The tone was as contagious as 
it was cutting. 

Morgan started to speak the newest selected slogan from the Mouth — 
and he stopped short. He was afraid of the test of strength. Two very 
expensive slogans had already been shattered today by these randoms. 
“No malice in the three,” the computer had said and: “without malice, 
there’s no handle to get hold of a thing,” John Candor had stated. But 
somewhere in that mountainous and contagious contempt of tone that 
belonged to Clivendon Surrey had to be some malice. So Morgan Aye 

reached for what had always been the ultimate weapon of the Crocodile’s 
Mouth. It always worked — it always worked if any malice at all existed in 
the object. 

“How would you like to make five thousand dollars a week?” he 
whispered to Clivendon. 

“What garage pays that much?” Clivendon asked in honest wonder. 
“I’m not that good a motorcycle mechanic.” 

“Five thousand dollars a week to work with us at ABNC,” Morgan 
tempted. “We could use you in so many ways — that marvelous scorn to 
cut down any man we wished! You could lend the intonations of your 
voice to our — ” 

The neigh was like a thousand sea stallions breaking up from the 
depths. The snort was one that crumbles cliffs at the ends of the earth. 
Morgan Aye had gone ghastly white and his ears were bleeding from the 
transgression of that cutting sound. There were even some words in 
Clivendon’s sounding. “Why, then I’d be one of the birds that picks the 
shreds of flesh from between the teeth of the monster.” Blinding and 
hooting contempt in the tone and Morgan Aye was in the street and 
running from it. But the echoes of that intonation were everywhere in 
that part of town, soon to be all over the town, all over the world. It was 
an epidemic of snorting at the Crocodile’s Mouth itself. 

Fools! Did they know that this was but one step from snorting at the 
very Crocodile? 

The ring had closed. The informal league had formed now. The three 
randoms had met and united. The Mouth was affronted. Worse than that, 
all the outpour of the Mouth was nullified. The whole world was rejecting 
the catchwords that came from the Mouth, was laughing at them, was 
throwing them away with the uttermost gesture, was monkey-facing them 
was snorting them down, was casting them out with bottomless 

This was the short reign of the secret society of three, who did not 
know that they were secret. But in their day they closed the Mouth down 
completely. It was filled with mud and swamp reeds and rotting flesh. 

The Secret Crocodile was lashing its tail with acute displeasure now. 
The Crocodile’s Mouth had become quite nervous. And what of the little 
birds that fly in and out of that mouth, that preen the teeth and glean 
scraps of flesh and slogans and catchwords there? The birds were in quite 

an unhappy flutter. 

“There is open conspiracy against us by a secret society of three 
persons,” Mr. James Dandi was saying, “and all the world abominates a 
secret society. We have this thing to do this day — to cripple it forever in 
its strength. Otherwise we will be cast out and broken as ineffectual 
instruments and the Crocodile will bring in strong persons from the 
Cocked Eye or the Cryptic Cootie to take our places. Surely we are not 
without resources. What is the logical follow-up to the Fruitful 

“The Purposive Accident,” John Candor said immediately. “Take care 
of it, John,” Mr. James Dandi said. “Remember, though, that he whose 
teeth we preen is the very bowels of compassion. I believe this is the 
salient thing in the world in our day. The Compassion of the Crocodile.” 

“Take care of it, people,” John Candor said to his seven talented ones, 
“remembering always that the Crocodile is the very belly of compassion. 

“Take care of it,” the seven said to the computer, “always within the 
context of the jaws of compassion.” 

The computer programmed a Purposive Accident to happen and 
manufactured such props as were needed. And the Purposive Accident 
was very well programmed. 

There was no great amount of blood poured out. No persons were 
killed except several uninvolved bystanders. The secret three were left 
alive and ambulant and scathed only at their points of strength. 

It happened in the block between the Blind Robbin Bar and 
Speedsters’ Cafe’ when all three members of the secret society happened 
to be walking together. The papers called it a bomb, they call everything a 
bomb that goes off like that. It was really a highly sophisticated homing 
device with a tripartite programming and it carried out its tripartite 

All three randoms, former members of the short-lived secret society, 
are well and working again. Mike Zhestoviteh is no longer a zipper 
repairman (it takes two talented hands to fix those zippers), but he still 
works at the Jiffy Nifty Dry Cleaners. He runs one of those big pressers 
now which he can easily do with his powerful and undamaged left hand 
and his prosthetic right hand. But without his old right hand he can no 
longer make the contagious primordial gesture that once dumbfounded 
the Mouth and all its words. You just cannot make the big gesture with a 

false hand. 

Mary Smorfia still works at the King-Pin Bowling Alley as hamburger 
waitress and beer buster. She is still small, dark, unpretty (except for her 
high-frequency eyes), lively, smart, and Italian. Her mouth is still a gash 
across her face, but now it is twice as great a gash as it used to be, and it 
no longer has its curled liveliness. Its mobility is all gone, it will no longer 
express the inexpressible, will no longer shatter a phrase or an attitude. 
Mary Smorfia is as she always was, except that now she is incapable of the 
famous grimace. 

Clivendon Surrey is again a motorcycle mechanic at Downhillers’ 
Garage and again he spends most of his time in Speedsters’ Cafe. His 
vocal cords are gone, of course, but he gets by: he is able to speak with a 
throat microphone. But the famous intonation, the neigh, the destroying 
snort are all impossible for him. 

The trouble is over with. Now again there is only one organization in 
the world to create the images and attitudes of the world. This insures 
that only the standard attitudes of the Disestablishment shall prevail. 

In our opening catalog we forgot one group. There is another secret 
society in the world composed of the good guys and good gals. It has no 
name that we have ever heard except just the Good Guys and Good Gals. 
At the moment this society controls nothing at all in the world. It stirs a 
little, though. It may move. It may collide, someday, even with the Secret 
Crocodile itself. 


The cliff faced south and was rough and sheer. It faced off against a 
mesa world, but it was not a mesa; it was a vagrant spire standing up 
alone. As you came to it from the south it was easy to go on either side. 
There was no necessity to climb it, and it could not be climbed to the top. 
But there was a kind of game to see how high it could be climbed. 

A long time ago (but not as long ago as these first cliff-climbers) we 
played a game in the second grade. There was a little cemented area that 
was closed at one end by a concrete wall. The game was to run at it and 
see how far you could run up it, and to leave a chalk mark there as high as 
you could reach. The ultimate was nearly achieved, the very apex beyond 
which it was not possible to go, nor to leave a higher chalk mark. Then 
some of the big boys from the third grade tried it and made a shambles of 
the game; for naturally they could run up farther and reach higher and 
leave chalk marks above all the old ones. 

The game on the cliff was about the same. The first chalk-mark was 
made by Little Fish-Head, and at a dizzy height. He wrote: 

“My name is Little Fish-Head and I climbed this cliff in the thirty- 
sixth year of the thirty-sixth period. I can see the river from here and it 
cannot be seen from any lower point. I have climbed nearer to the sun 
than any man who ever lived. And now may God watch over me on my 
long hard journey.” 

This translation is by Professor Potter, who climbed the cliff at a later 
period. What Little Fish-Head did was to scratch the picture of a fish high 
on the cliff wall, or a stylized object that might have been a Fish, and was 
anyway longer than it was wide. There was a triangle at one end of it 
which tile professor said was a fish-head. And there was a small triangle 
or wedge mark apart and just beyond which the professor said was tile 
signature, Little Fish-Head. On the side of the fish (if it was a fish) were 
six scratches of which one was longer than the rest. Speculatively this 
meant by six, which is to say thirty-six; and as one side of the fish was so 
marked, the other side of the fish which can no more be seen than the 
other side of the moon was doubtless intended to be marked that way 
also. This meaning, the thirty-sixth year of the thirty-sixth period, would 
date the sketch accurately as being 1296 years after the beginning of the 
first period, and would make it (the professor said) the earliest absolutely 

certain date in history if we only knew when the first period started. 

He really could have seen the river from there, a striking view, and it 
could not be seen from any lower point. There was a circle scratched 
above which was the sun, that is God, and there was a jagged line going to 
the right which meant a rough journey ahead, and a long old journey it 

It was translations like this that earned the professor the reptutation 
for brilliance fir beyond the call of duty. 

But I will tell you the true story of Little Fish-Head. I have attained to 
it by ways as brilliant and fantastic as those of the professor, but they 
sound sillier and you’d hoot at me if you know my methods. 

Little Fish-Head was the last of the horse thieves under the old 
recension. After him there were eleven thousand years when there were 
no horse thieves. This corresponded to the period when the horses had 
disappeared from the continent. As the last of the old horse thieves, he 
stole the last of the old horses. 

Professor Potter and the other professors have puzzled over the 
disappearance of these first horses. But it was no mystery. They 
disappeared, as have so many other of the vital things, because they were 
over-regulated. The first regulation went out in the thirteenth period to 
the effect that men of the Horse Fly Totem could not ride horses. Some of 
them quit their totem (there are always a few who will apostisize at the 
initiation of unjust laws), some of them quit riding horses, and some of 
them continued to ride till they were hunted down and executed. 

Then it was enacted that only those of settled estate and tangible 
property could ride horses; and they were absolutely forbidden to 
vagabonds and beggars, who had the most vise for them. Then a very high 
horse tax was enacted which discouraged all but the very wealthy from 
keeping up. After this it was decreed halt only kings, caciques, and tax 
collectors could own them. And finally there were only nine horses in all 
the Western world and they were all in one royal keep. 

It was then that Little Fish-Head — that is not his real name, that is 
only a stupid mistranslation of Professor Potter — that Little Fish-Head 
did some serious thinking. 

“If I kill the eight and ride away on the ninth, then nobody in the 
world can catch me. I will be as fleet as the storm and will tower over all 
the footmen of the world.” 

So he killed the eight horses and rode away on the ninth. There was a 
great outcry, but an outcry of footmen cannot bring a man down from his 
horse. Fie rode away on the last great stallion, and goaded it all day long, 
as he was in a state of exaltation. 

At evening when it had run all day it fell dead at the foot of the cliff. 
This surprised Little Fish-Head, who knew very little about horses and 
thought they would run forever. It was then that he climbed the cliff to a 
dizzy height and scratched a dirge as tall as he could reach. This was the 
inscription that the professor in his pride had misread. It was not a 
stylized fish at all. It was a stylized horse without any logs, for it was lying 
down dead. And the little triangle was not the signature of Little Fish- 
Head, but the soul of the horse leaving the body, triangular rather than 
square or round to indicate the incompleteness of the soul of a noble but 
irrational animal. 

What the inscription really said was this: 

“Oh my horse, All the swiftness is now gone out of the world. No mail 
again can go higher than his own height, Nor more fleeting than he was 
born to go. The last man has ridden on the last wind, And only the dust 
can ride on the whirlwind now. I have climbed to this height To write 
that the high aspiration was only a dream. And if even a horse dies How 
can a man live forever?” 

The next chalk-mark was made about nine thousand years later and 
was nearly a foot higher. There had been no improvement in the art of 
climbing meanwhile, but it had been scratched by a taller man. 

It was a double wavy mark like a snake or a river, followed by an 
abrupt despairing downstroke. Professor Potter had made nine tentative 
translations of this. The seventh of the nine has now been proved by a 
miracle of scholarship too intricate to explain to be the correct one. This 
is it: 

“There is no water and I have traveled for days in agony. I have 
climbed this Cliff to look for the river. I see it, but I will die before I can 
go that far; it would take me three days to reach it. I had thought I could 
climb as high as the clotid and wring it out, but the little cloud has passed 
and there is no other. The sun has become my friend now, but he is as 
much at a loss as I what to do. But at least I have seen the river before I 

After that it was only nine hundred years before the next climber 

achieved. And he carved these letters: 

“Paso per aqui A-Dmo 1519 Mayo 19 Jose Ramires Castillo y 

This message is too definite and leaves little to the imagination. He 
was not thirsty, for he did not carve like a thirsty man. He was not overly 
weary, so perhaps he had come on one of the new horses. Nor had he (the 
professor said) come alone. There were drill holes in the rock where rope 
hooks had been placed, and he must have had at least two assistants. But 
we cannot picture him more clearly than this. 

And oddly the next chalk-mark was made exactly four hundred years 
later. And it read: 

“Pinon Gap High School Seniors 1919 Clement Kincaid, Freddy 
Stockton, Manuel Cervantes We Are The Tops.” 

And in the high school annual of that year there were their three 
pictures on a page by themselves entitled “The Topper Club, The Most 
Exclusive in the World.” 

And to continue the spate of climbers in the very next decade was a 
higher entry: 

“Bo McCoy, I am the Real. I am a Bo. 1925 June Tenth.” 

Quite a bit could be made from this. The railway was twenty miles 
away, and there was no stop. He had rolled off it and crossed the desert to 
make his mark. He might have been a lonesome hobo as colored men are 
likely to be on that run. And he had a long old walk to the next stop. And 
he made what was then the highest chalk-mark on the cliff. And he had 
climbed alone nine feet higher than it was possible to climb to make it. 

That was all until the professor came. The professor was G.A.D. 
Potter, for his name was Gamiel Audlich Dagobert, all of which he hated. 
But he liked to be called Gad. 

“Gad, Gad,” his associates would say, “you could rope down from the 
top or use a ‘copter to read the scratches. There is no reason to waste a 
summer on the Tor. There are better things found digging in the ground 
than you ever will find on the side of a cliff.” 

But the professor was a cliff-climber and a chalk-marker, and he had 
an exaltation to go the highest. We will not tell you what he carved on the 
cliff, for it was pedantic and stilted, and he had prepared many drafts of it 
before he went up the cliff the last time. 

He spent six weeks in his tent at the foot of the cliff with his wife, 

Aurora, and they prepared as though it were Everest. They drilled holes 
and set lead shields in the rock with eyelets for the ropes. They spun webs 
of lines and hauled and pulled and rappelled, and did all the things that 
cliff-climbers do. They cut hand holes and foot holes, and even 
established a camp “A” two thirds of the way up. And to it they went up 
and down on a rope ladder where Little Fish-Head and Bo McCoy had 
climbed like monkeys. 

But maximum effort is required for maximum achievement, and the 
professor was remarkably persevering, as all professors are, and Aurora 
was remarkably good natured, as all professors’wives must be. 

Early in the morning of the last day of spring they went up their ropes 
and scoop holes till Aurora stood firmly on a newly hewn ledge where Bo 
McCoy had hung on air. Than the professor climbed onto her shoulders 
and made the highest chalk-mark. 

We will not record what he carved, as he has already done so, and 
besides, as we said, it was too stilted and stylish. But yet like all the other 
marks it was capable of variant and fuller translation. In a later time by 
another professor who might not have the key to the precise letters 
themselves, it would be more correctly translated as follows: 

“I have slain the nightmare and set down the terror. I have climbed 
beyond dizziness on a cliff that once hung down from the sky before there 
was a world below it. Even the eagles when they were now would not fly 
this high. And this above all, while others have ridden on the wind, I only 
have ridden on the daughter of the wind. This is a red-haired goddess, a 
strong slight amazon, a magic anemonead with hair like a red sea and 
shoulders soft and sweet as the night itself. She sways beneath me but 
will not break, and the early sun is on her and she is silver and flame. Her 
neck is of living ivory.” 

And the rest of it would be very hard to translate even by the best 
paleocalligraphist. But he would know that this was the hand of an 
ancient poet who had climbed a dizzy cliff to write a hymn to the dawn. 


Or, Wrens in His Head 

Condillac made a man-sized statue. You did not know that he could 
make a statue? All philosophers can do all things whatsoever, if only they 
put their hands to it. He made the statue from a thrust of granite that 
already stood there. This granite seemed sometimes brown, sometimes 
green, sometimes blue, but always frog-colored, and never lifeless. Three 
big men did the rough work, a smith, a wood chopper, and a stonecutter; 
and Condillac himself did the fine work. He intended the statue to be of 
noble appearance. It would have been noble if cut out of travertine 
marble; but things cut out of granite can only be comic or oture or 

His friend the brainy doctor Jouhandeau — but that crabby old 
occultist was a friend of nobody — added a thing to the statue according 
to the plan they had. 

The statue stood on the edge of Condillac’s estate of Flux, near 
Beaugency, in the small park there just off the mule road that ran north 
to Chateaudun, and just off the river Loire itself. It was a fine small park 
with a gushing spring that fed a bucket-cistern and a large horse-trough. 
And people came there. 

Wagonmen and coachmen and mulemen stopped at this park. It had 
heavy grass all the way from Flux to the river. Horsemen and honest 
travelers, vagabonds and revolutionaries stopped there; boatmen from 
the Loire came there to enjoy a few hours. There were big shade trees and 
fine water in the summer, and plenty of underwood and stone hearths for 
the winter. There were old sheep sheds toward the river where one could 
sleep in the sour hay. 

Children came there from town and country. Basket-women came out 
from Beaugency to sell bread and cheese and apples and wine to the 
travelers. And everybody who came there would like the statue. 

It was a burlesque thing, a boy-man mass with a lumpish loutish body 
and a very big head on it. It had a grin almost too wide for that lived. Its 
face was slack and vacant most of the time, but in a certain shadow-hour 
it became a face of curious profundity. It was a clodhopper, a balourd. 

The statue stood there a month, “till it should be accustomed to the 
site,” as Condillac and jouhandeau said. After that, the two of them came 

in deep evening and opened the head of the statue. (Even the kids who 
climbed on it had not known that the head would open.) Jouhandeau 
made the first connection in that head. Then they sat on one of the great 
stone benches of the park and talked about it till the late moon arose. 

“Are you sure it is still alive?” Condillac asked the crabby doctor. 

“I myself do not believe in life,” jouhandeau said, “but it is still alive, 
as you understand life.” 

“And you are sure that it was wiped clean?” 

“Oh, absolutely, indiscussably. It gets its first sensory impressions 

“if you can do such a thing, jotihandeau, then you can do a thousand 
other things. It shakes me even to think of them.” 

“I can do them, and I will not. I do this only to oblige you, to aid you in 
your studies. But you will be proved wrong; and you will not admit that 
you are wrong; so it will all be for nothing.” 

“But others will someday do what you can do now, Jouhandeau.” 

“Perhaps in two hundred years. I am not much more than two 
hundred years before my time. After all, Cugnot’s automobile is regarded 
as more curiosity by everyone. It will be more than a hundred years 
before such things are made commercially. And here is one greater than 
Cugnot: myself.” 

After a while, night men came out of the boscage of the river meadows 
to look for prey; and Condillac and Jouhandeau slipped back through the 
trees to the estate house before the rising moon should discover them to 
the night thieves. 

And now the statue was getting its first sensory impressions. 

“Old Rock can smell now,” the kids told the people. 

“How would a statue smell with a stone nose?” the people asked. 

“Does he snuffle or move or anything? How do you know that he can 

“We don’t know how he can smell with a stone nose,” the kids said, 
“and he doesn’t snuffle or move or anything. But he can smell now, and 
we don’t know how he can.” 

Old Rock could smell now all right. And there was one other thing he 
seemed to do sometimes, but it was hard to catch him at it. 

Lathered horses, foam-whitened harness, green goop in the horse 
trough, those were smells of the little pirk and the big country. Wet flint 

stones, grickle birds and the mites on them; river grass and marl grass 
and loam grass; oaks and chestnuts, wagon-wheel grease, men in leather; 
stone in shade, and stone in sun; hot mules, and they do not smell the 
same as hot horses, mice in the grass roots, muskiness of snakes; 
sharpness of fox hair, air of badger holes; brown dust of the Orleans road, 
red dust of the road to Chateatidun; crows that have fed today, and those 
who have not; time-polisbed coach wood; turtles eating low grapes, and 
the grapes being bruised and eaten; sheep and goats; cows in milk, now 
stilted colts; long loaves, corks of wine bottles, cicadas in pig-weeds; 
hands of smiths and feet of charcoal burners; whetted iron on travelers; 
pungent blouses of river men; oatcakes and sour cream; wooden shoes, 
goose eggs, now-spread dung, potato bugs; thatciicrs at work; clover, 
vetch, hairy logs of bumblebees. There are no two of these things that 
have the same smell. 

The kids said that the statue could smell even with a stone nose. He 
stood and smelled for a month, and the smells informed his stone. 

Then Condillac and jouhandeau came at night, opened the head of the 
statue, and made the second connection. Afterwards, they sat on one of 
the stone benches and talked about it till the late moon rose. 

“I will prove that there are no innate concepts,” Condillac said. “I will 
confute all foolish philosophers forever. I will prove that there is nothing 
in the mind but what goes in by the senses. You have obtained prime 
mature brain matter, snatched out of its dwellings at the moment before 
its deaths, blended in its several sources, and swept clean by your own 
techniques. It is an empty house here, and we introduce its dwellers one 
by one. Why do you say I will be proved wrong, Jouhandeau?” 

“I do not believe that there are any innate concepts either. I do not 
believe that there are any concepts of any sort, anywhere, ever. But what 
you call concepts will crawl into that mind, not only by the senses 
through the stone apertures, but by means beyond you.” They argued till 
the night-bats and the night-sickness flew up from the river to look for 
prey; then they slipped back through the trees to the estate house. 

“old Rock can hear now,” the kids told the people. 

“Oh, cut the clownerie, kids,” the people said. “How could a statue 
hear with stone ears?” 

But he could hear. And there was the other thing that he still seemed 
to do, and now the kids caught him at it sometimes. 

Ah, a whole catalog of different sounds and noises. Old Rock stood 
and listened for a month to the manifold noises that were all different. By 
the sounds and the noises he informed his stone. He began to understand 
the sounds. 

That month gone by, Gondillac and Jouhandeau came at night, made 
the third connection inside the head of the statue, and sat and talked 
about it till the late moon rose. 

“Old Rock can see now,” the kids said. 

“Ah, there is something funny about that statue,” the people agreed. 
“It no longer has stone eyes, but live eyes that move. But what is so 
wonderful about seeing? A pig or a chicken can do the same thing.” 

But there was that other thing that Old Rock-Head did, that he had 
been doing for some time. The statue laughed, openly and loudly now. He 
chuckled, rooted in the chuckling earth. 

“Well, how can he laugh?” Condillac asked. “We haven’t made such a 
connection. Indeed, we couldn’t have. We couldn’t have influenced him in 
this unknowingly?” 

“Impossible,” said Jouhandeau. “Neither of us has ever laughed.” 

Well, Statue stood and saw with his eyes for a month. Perhaps it was 
not wonderful (wonderful is an innate concept, and therefore cannot be), 
but it was a new dimension. The bumpkin eyes twinkled and stared by 
turns, and the stone grin became even wider. 

Condillac and Jouhandeau came by night to their monthly 
appointment, opened the head of the statue, made a fourth connection, 
and sat talking about it till the late moon rose. 

“The Rock-Head can talk now,” the kids told the people. 

“Oh, we know that,” the people said. “He talks to us too, but what is so 
wonderful about talking if it is no more than his talk? Big as he is, he talks 
like a half-grown kid. The fellow must be retarded.” 

Yes, he was, a little; but he began to catch up. 

But the first person that Statue had talked to was his maker, Condillac 

“Statue, you are a tabula rosa,” Colidillac said to him. 

“I don’t know what that is,” said Rock-Head. “Talk honest French, or I 
cannot understand you. Such is the only talk I have heard in the month I 
have stood here with loosened ears.” 

“Your brain was a tablet shaved smooth,” said Condillac, “and we have 

let sensations into it one sense at a time, from the most simple to the 
most complex. This is to show that you may be functional without innate 
ideas. I will have to give you a name, Statue.” 

“Rock-Head is my name,” said Statue. “The kids named me. They are 
friendly most of the time, but sometimes they are rock-throwing rogues.” 

“But you can have no idea of friendly or unfriendly,” Condillac said. 
“These are only empty words that people use. You can have no idea of 
good or bad, of beauty or ugliness, of form or deformity, of pleasure or 
pain, Yours was mature brain matter, though swept clean, and none of 
the childish entrances could have been made, as with others. We have not 
yet hooked up your sense of touch, and we may not; it would mean 
running tendons all through you. Contamination may enter by the sense 
of touch. But now you can have no idea of justice or injustice, of elegance 
or inelegance, of wealth or of poverty. In fact, all these opposites are 
meaningless, as I will prove through you. They are only the babbling of 
blind philosophers.” 

“But I do have these ideas, Condillac,” Rock-Head insisted. “I have 
them strongly. I learned right smells and wrong smells; right tones and 
wrong tones; right shapes and forms and colors, and wrong, Oh, may I 
always choose the right things, Condillac!” 

“Statue, you sound like an idiot preacher-man. There are no right 
things or wrong things, there are no innate ideas. There are no things in- 
place or out-of-place. I prove this all through you.” 

“Condillac, you are the Abbe of Mureaux, and you draw pay for such,” 
Rock-liond said. “You would be in-place there. You are out-of-place on 
your estate Flux.” 

“What is the matter with you, Statue?” Condillac demanded. “You are 
flighty and wan-witted.” 

“Wrens in my head, they say of me. It’s a country expression, 
Condillac. Besides, I have them literally, quite a pleasant family of them 
inside my stone head. Learn from the wren wisdom!” 

Condillac angrily beat on the lower part of the statue with his leaded 
cane, breaking off toes. “I will not be lectured by a rock!” he crackled. 
“You have not these ideas originally, and mature brain matter will reject 
such. Therefore, you have them not! Reason is the thing, Statue, 
rationality. We promulgate it. It spreads. It prevails. The tomorrow world 
will be the world of total reason.” 

“No, it will be the Revolution,” said Rock-Head. “A world condemned 
to such short fare as bleak reason will howl and cry out for blood.” 

A long-tongued woman came to Rock-Head. “My confessor told me 
that, whenever I feel impelled to repeat gossip, I should whisper it to a 
statue, and then forget it,” she said. So she whispered it to Rock-Head for 
an hour and a half. 

In the cool of the evening, Rock-Head repeated it, loudly and stonily, 
to the quite a few people who were enjoying the evening there, and he 
found himself the center of interest. But he was uneasy about it; he didn’t 
understand why the confessor had instructed the woman to tell him such 

One evening the revolutionaries gathered and talked at the foot of 

“It should have happened in our fathers’ time,” one of them said. “Let 
it now be in our own time. We may not rightly push this thing off on our 
sons. The poor become poorer and the corrupt become more corrupt. 
How many does it take to upheave a world? There are five of us here. Up! 
Up! Five for the Revolution!” 

“Six,” cried Rock-Head. “I am for the Revolution too. Up, up, arise!” 

“Statue, Statue,” one ofthem asked, “how long have you been able to 

“I’m in my third month of it, fellows.” 

“Then you have heard us before. You know what we stand for. We will 
have to destroy you.” 

“It is only a statue, Fustel,” said another of them. “It would be 
superstition to destroy it. And we are enlightened.” 

“But what if he blurts out our slogans which he has heard, 

“A good thing. Let the statue cry slogans, and the people will be 

“Up with the Revolution!” Rock-Head cried again. “But I am not sure 
that you fellows provide a sufficient base for it. I visualize creatures with a 
narrower and more singular bent. I will string along with you, but 
meanwhile I will see what I can do about having real revolutionaries 

“Have you noticed the now carp in the horse trough, Rock-Head?” the 
occult doctor Jouhandeau asked as he came by to visit one day. 

“Yes, the kid seems to be in some kind of trouble. I’d comfort him if I 
could get down to him. But how do you know he’s a new carp? People 
don’t notice such things.” 

“I put him there, Rock-Head,” said Jouhandeau. “And I put a human 
child’s brain into him, shaved smooth, of rouce, and trimmed to fit. He 
can smell and hear and see, but he could do as much when he had a fish’s 

“Jouhandeau, that kid’s scared to death.” 

“Couldn’t be, Rock-Head. Where could he have the idea of scared? Are 
you contradicting the wise Condillac?” 

“Jouhandeau, I am friend to revolutionaries, but all the 
revolutionaries sound deficient to me. Make me revolutionaries who will 
do the thing!” 

“Anything to oblige a stone-headed friend. I have already done some 
thinking along this line. I will not even have to transfer brains, or flop like 
vultures over the dying to rob them of these things. I can take sturdy 
farmers and townsmen and intellectuals as they stand, destroy certain 
small nodules in their heads, and we will have them ready to go. I treat 
them for the escarbilles, a disease of which I have never heard, and they 
even less. But I stop them in the reoadways and tell them that they are 
afflicted and that I can cure them in a moment. And I do cure them in a 
moment, of something, but not of the escarbilles.” 

“Will they have a narrower and more singular bent?” 

“They will, Rock-Head, so narrow and singular that you could hardly 
believe it.” 

A young fellow was smooching his girl and loving her up in the park. 

“I want to do that too,” Rock-Head called out loudly. 

“All right, come down and do it,” said the girl. “It’s fun.” 

“But I can’t come down,” Rock-Head complained. 

“Then you can’t do it,” the girl said, and they laughed at him. 

“I wish that guy would get his truffle-grubbing hands off my girl,” 
Rock-Head grumbled. “But how do I know it would be fun? Is not fun an 
innate idea? And there are none such.” 

A thief rode up one cloudy afternoon, opened Rock-Head’s head, 
stuffed a large bag of gold inside, closed the head again, and rode off 
furiously once more. How did the thief know that Rock-Head’s head 
would open? Why, the gentlemen of the trade can sense a good hiding 

place every time. 

The thief was caught by pursuing horsemen. He was beaten, crying his 
innocence all the time; but he was not hanged. You cannot hand a thief 
without boodle. 

But the bag full of gold weighed heavily on Rock-Head’s brain. 
Moreover, it crowded the wrens in his head. He had great affection for 
the wrens, though they did sometimes pick his brains. This gold did have 

“This gold, at least, is not an innate idea,” Rock-Head mused “In its 
particular, it is a thing intruded directly into my head. It is a heavy thing, 
and I cannot ignore it. There is a new idea and a new attitude in me. I am 
a man of means now, and my thinking can never be quite what it was 

Rock-Head began thinking in a new way. 

“Jouhandeau,” he said when that doctor came to visit him again, “tell 
Condillac that I want to talk to him. There is something wrong with that 
man, I believe.” 

“Condillac is dead now, Rock-Head,” Jouhandeau told him. “That is 
the most recent thing wrong with him.” 

“How did he accept it? I’ve been afraid there would be some trouble 

“He didn’t accept it. He believes that life and death are both innate 
concepts, and that there are no innate concepts. Naturally, he will not 
believe that he is dead.” 

“How are you coming along with the revolutionaries, Jouhandeau?” 

“Quite well. There are a hundred of them now, and I will leave them to 
themselves. They will propagate their own kind, and in two hundred 
years they will take over the world. I will not hurry it. I am two hundred 
years before my time in so many ways already.” 

There was blood on the bread. There was blood on the land, and on 
every thing. It would bubble and speckle. Then it would flow. 

Rock-Head had become an orator. He had the fire, he had the sparkle, 
he had the quick deep thunder of a true rouser. He had the freshness of 
morning rain and the resonance of the groaning earth. 

So naturally he became something of a leader among the old- 
fashioned revolutionaries of the neighborhood, and they came for him 
one night. 

“Time for talking is over with, Rock-Head,” they told him. “Now is the 
time for action.” They ripped his brains out of the rock case, they ripped 
out all the sensory appendages that went with them. They loaded these in 
two hampers on a mule. 

“Lead us, Rock-Head,” they said. “We begin to burn the world down 
tonight. We start with the estate house Flux and the town of Beaugency. 
We burn and we slay.” 

“What will become of my wrens when I am not in my head with 
them?” Rock-Head asked. 

“We care nothing for wrens, we care nothing for people,” they cried. 
“We only care that the burning may begin.” 

“What will become of my sack of gold when I am not in my own head 
to guard it?” Rock-Head worried. 

“We care nothing for gold,” they cried, “we care less for bread. The 
burning is the thing.” And they had come to the estae house of Flux. They 
began to butcher the gentlepeople and servants fluttering around and set 
fire to the place. 

“Wait, wait,” Rock-Head cried. “Have some respect for property. 

“How can we have respect for property?” they asked as they killed and 
burned. “A revolutionary cares nothing for property.” 

“This one does,” said Rock-Head. “We must have a revolution with 
full respect for property. I am a man of property now. I own a bag of gold. 
Up the revolution! Up respect for property!” 

“This cannot be,” the revolutionaries held council. “A person who 
owns one bag of gold cannot be a true revolutionary; though a person 
who owns one thousand bags may sometimes be.” 

They began to kill Rock-Head there, in brain and sensories. 

“Tell Jouhandeau to call off his thing,” Rock-Head gasped out of his 
dying cerebrum; but these old-fashioned revolutionaries didn’t 
understand him. They knew nothing of the creatures of Jouhandeue 
which would so soon obsolete them. 

They killed Rock-Head in all his parts. They sold his remains for cat 
meat to a basketwoman there, and they went on with their burning. 

Oh, the statue is still there, and there are still wrens in his head. There 
have now been more than one hundred generations of wrens there. These 
are the rich wrens and they have a good thing. They pay tribute to the 

shrikes in small gold coins, so they will now kill them. And the wrens are 
left alone. 

The old-fashioned revolutionaries failed, but the new revolutionaries 
made by Jouhandeau could not fail. Failure is an innate concept, and 
there are no innate concepts. A hundred of them, with the few young boys 
they had pupped in the meanwhile, would overturn that land nineteen 
years later, tha tland with blood on the bread. 

And later, a thousand of them would —, and ten thousand of them 
would —, and ten million of them would —, for they propagated their own 
kind. They were people so narrow and singular that you would hardly 
believe it. 

Doctor Jouhandeau was two hundred years before his time in so many 
ways, but he estimated the time of it nicely. 


Having achieved perfection, we feel a slight unease. 
From our height we feel impelled to look down. We 
make our own place and tehre is nothing below us; but 
in our imagination there are depths and enimals below 
us. To look down breeds cultishness. 

There are the cults of the further lands and the 
further peoples. The Irish and Americans and Africans 
are respectable, philosophical and industrial parties, 
but the cultishness is something beyond. Any addition to 
the world would mar the perfect world which is the 
perfect thought of the Maker. Were there an Africa 
indeed, were there the Indies, then we would be other 
than we are. The tripartite unity that is the ecumene 
would be broken: the habitable world-island, the single 
eye in the head that is the world-globe would be voided. 

There are those who say that our rational and perfct 
world whould steep itself in this great unconcsious 
grography of the under-mind, in the outre fauna and 
the incredible continents of the tortured imagination 
and of black legends. They pretend that this world 
would give us depth. 

We do not want depth. We want Height! Let us seal 
off the under-things of the under-mind, and exalt 
ourselves! And our unease will pass. 

—Exaltation Philosophy 
Audifax O’Hanlon 

The True Believer was sailing offshore in an easterly direction in the 
latitude of fifteen degrees north and the longitude of twenty-four degrees 
east. To the north of the coasting ship was the beautiful Cinnamon Coast 
of Libya with its wonderful beaches and its remarkable hotels tawny in 
the distance. To the east and south and west were the white-topped waves 
that went on for ever and ever. The True Believer sailed along the 
southernmost edge of the ecumene, the habitable and inhabited world. 

August Shackleton wis drinking Roman Bomb out of a potbellied 

bottle and yelping happily as he handled the wheel of the True Believer: 

“It’s a kids’ thing to do,” he yipped, “but there were never such 
beautiful waters to do it in. We try to call in outer spirits. We try to call up 
inner spirits and lands. It’s a children’s antic. Why do we do it, Boyle, 
other than for the fun of it?” 

“Should there by another reason, Shackleton? Well, there is; but we go 
about it awkwardly and without knowing what we’re doing. The thing 
about humans which nobody apparently wishes to notice, is that we’re a 
species which has never had an adult culture. We feel that lack more and 
more as we become truly adult in other ways. It grows tedious to stretch 
out a childhood forever. The easy enjoyments, the easy rationality, the 
easy governments and sciences, are really childish things. We master 
them while we are yet children, and we look beyond. But there isn’t 
anything beyond the childishness, Shackleton. We must find a deeper 
view somehow. We are looking for that something deeper here.” 

“What? By going on a lark that is childish even to children, Boyle? I 
was ashamed in front of my sons when I confessed on what sort of 
diversion I was going. First there were the seances that we indulged in. If 
we raised any spirits there, they were certainly childish ones. And now 
we’re on this voyage on the True Believer. We’re looking for the 
geographical home of certain collective unconscious images! Why 
shouldn’t the children hoot at us? Ah well, let us not be too ashamed. It’s 
colorful and stimulating fun, but it isn’t adult.” 

The other four members of the party, Sebastian Linter and the three 
wives, Justitia Shackleton, Luna Boyle, and Mintgreen Linter, were 
swimming in the blue ocean. The True Beleiver was coasting very slowly 
and the four swimmers were clipped to outrigger towlines. 

“There’s something wrong with the water!” Justina Shackleton 
suddenly called up to her husband. “There’s weeds in it, and there 
shouldn’t be. There’s reeds in it, and swamp grasses. There’s mud. And 
there’s green slime!” 

“You’re out of your lovely head, lovely,” Shackleton called back. “It’s 
all clear blue water off a sand coast. I can see fish twenty meters down. 
It’s clear.” 

“I tell you it’s full of green slime!” Justina called back. “It’s so thick 
and heavy that it almost tears me away from the line. And the insects are 
so fierce that I have to stay submerged.” 

But they were off the Cinnamon Coast of Libya. They could smell the 
warm sand, and the watered gardens ashore. There was no mud, there 
was no slime, there were no insects off the Cinnamon Coast ever. It was 
all clear and bright as living, moving glass. 

Sebastian Linter had been swimming on the seaward side of the ship. 
Now he came up ropes to the open deck of the ship, and he was bleeding. 

“It is thick, Shackleton,” he panted. “It’s full of snags and it’s 
dangerous. And that fanged hog could have killed me. Get the rest of 
them out of the water! “ 

“Linter, you can see for yourself that it is clear everywhere. Clear, and 
of sufficient depth, and serene.” 

“Sure, I see that it is, Shackleton. Only it isn’t. What we are looking for 
has already begun. The illusion has already happened to all senses except 
sight. Stuff it, Shackleton! Get them out of the water! The snakes and the 
crocs will get them. The animals threshing around in the mud will get 
them. And if they try to climb up into the short, the beasts there will 
break them up and tear them to pieces.” 

“Linter, we’re two thousand meters off shore and everything is clear. 
But you are disturbed. Oof, so am I! The ship has grounded, and it’s fifty 
meters deep here. All right, everyone! I order everybody except my wife to 
come out of the water! I request that she come out. I am unable to order 
her to do anything.” 

The other two women, Luna Boyle and Mintgreen Linter, came out of 
the water. And Justina Shackleton did not. 

“In a while, August, in a while I come,” Justina called up to the ship. 
“I’m in the middle of a puzzle here and I want to study it some more. 
August, can a hallucination snap you in two? He sure is making the 

“I don’t know, lovely,” August Shackleton called back to her 

Luna Boyle and Mintgreen Linter had come out of the ocean up the 
ropes. Luna was covered with green slime and was bleeding variously. 
Mintgreen was covered with weeds and mud, and her hands were town. 
And she hobbled with pain. 

“Is your foot broken, darling?” Sebastian Linter asked her with almost 
concern. “But of course, it is all illusion.” 

“I have the illusoin that my foot is broken,” Mintgreen sniffled, “and I 

have the illusion that I am in very great pain. Bleeding blubberfish, I wish 
it were real! It wouldn’t really hurt this much.” 

“Oh, elephant hokey!” Boyle stormed. “These illusions are nonsense. 
There can’t be such an ambient creeping around us. We’re not 
experiencing anything.” 

“Yes we are, Boyle,” Shackleton said nervously. “And your expression 
is an odd one at this moment. For the elephant was historical in the India 
that is, was fantastic in the further India that is fantastic, and is still more 
fanciful in its African contingency. In a moment we will try to conjure up 
the African elephant which is twice the mass of the historical Indian 
elephant. The ship is dragging badly now and might even break up if this 
continues, but the faro shows no physical contact. All right, the five of us 
on deck will put our heads together for this. You lend us a head too, 

“Take it, take my head. I’m about to let that jawful snapper have my 
body anyhow. August, this stuff is real! Don’t tell me I imagine that 
smell,” Justina called. 

“We will all try to imagine that smell, and other things,” August 
Shackleton stated as he uncorked another bottle of Roman Bomb. In the 
visible world there was still the Cinnamon Coast of Libya, and the blue 
ocean going on forever. But in another visible world, completely 
unrelated to the firt and occupying absolutely a different space (but both 
occupying total space), were the green swamps of Africa, the sedgy shores 
going sometimes back into rain forests and sometimes into savannas, the 
moon mountains rising behind them, the air sometimes heavy mist and 
sometimes clear with scalding light, the fifth levels of noises, the hundred 
levels of colors. 

“The ambient is forming nicely even before we start,” Shackleton 
purred. Some of them drank Roman Bomb and some of them Green 
Canary as they readied themselves for the psychic adventure. 

“We begin the conjure,” Shackleton said, “and the conjure begins with 
words. Our little group has been involved in several sorts of 
investigations, foolish ones perhaps, to discover whether there are (or 
more importantly, to be sure that there are not) physical areas and 
creatures beyond those of th closed ecumene. We have gone on knob- 
knockers, we have held seances. The seances in particular were 
grotesque, and I believe we were all uneasy and guilty about them. Our 

Faith forbids us to evoke spirits. But where does it forbid us to evoke 

“Ease up a little on the evoking!” Justina shrilled up at them. “The 
snapper just took me off at the left ankle. I pray he doesn’t like my taste.” 

“It has been a mystery for centuries,” said August (somewhat 
disturbed by his wife’s vulgar outburst from the ocean), “that out of the 
folk unconscious there should well up ideas of continents that are not in 
the world, continents with highly imaginary flora and fauna, continents 
with highly imaginary people. It is a further mystery that these psychic 
continents and islands should be given bearings, and that apparently 
sane persons have claimed to visit them. The deepest mystery of all is 
Africa. Africa, in Roman days, was a subdivision of Mauretania, which 
was a subdivision of Libya, one of the three parts of the world. And yet 
the entire coast of Libya has been mapped correctly for three thousand 
years, and there is no Africa beyond, either appended or separate. We 
prove the nonsense of it by sailing in clear ocean through the middle of 
that pretended continent.” 

“We prove the nonsense further by getting our ship mired in a swamp 
in the middle of the imaginary continent and seeing that continent begin 
to form about us,” said Boyle. His Green Canary tasted funny to him. 
There was a squalling pungency in the air and something hair-raisingly 
foreign in the taste of the drink. 

“This is all like something out of Carlo Forte,” Linter laughed 

“The continental ambient forms about its,” said Shackleton. “Now we 
will evoke the creatures. First let its conjure the great animals: the 
rhinoceros, the lion, the leopard, the elephant, which all have Asian 
Counterparts; but these of the contingent Africa are to be half again to 
twice the size, and incomparably fierce. 

“We conjure them, we conjure them,” they all chanted, and the 
conjured creatures appeared mistily. 

“We conjure the hippototamus, the water behemoth, with its great 
comical bulk, its muzzle like a scoop shovel, and its eyes standing up like 
big balls — ” 

“Stop it, August!” Justina Shackleton shrieked from the water. “I don’t 
know whether the hippo is playful or not, but he’s going to cruch me in a 

“Come out of the water, Justina!” August ordered sternly. 

“I will not. There isn’t any ship left for me to come to. You’re all sitting 
on a big, slippery, broken tree out over the water, and the snappers and 
boas are coming very near your legs and necks.” 

“Yes, I suppose so, one way of looking it it,” August said. “Now 
everybody Conjure the animals that are compounded out of grisly humor, 
the giraffe with a neck alone that is longer than a horse, and the zebra 
which is a horse in a clown suit.” 

“We conjure them, we conjure,” they all chanted. 

“The zebra isn’t as funny as I thought it would be.” Boyle complained. 
“Nothing is as funny as a I thought it would be.” 

“Conjure the great snake that is a thousand times heavier than other 
snakes, that can swallow a wild ass,” Shackleton gave them the lead. 

“We conjure it, we conjure it,” they all chanted. 

“August, it’s over your head, reaching down out of the giant mimosa 
estuaries in which it lives,” they all chanted. 

“Easy on that one,” Justina shrilled. “He’s been taking me by little 
pieces. Now he’s taking me by big pieces.” 

“Conjure the ostrich,” Shackleton intoned, “ the bird that is a 
thousand times as heavy as other birds, that stands a meter tailer than a 
man, that kicks like a mule, the bird that is too heavy to fly. I wonder 
what delirium first invented such wildlife as Africa’s, anyhow?” 

“We conjure it, we conjure it,” they chanted. 

“Conjure the great walking monkey that is three times as heavy as a 
man,” August intoned. “Conjure a somewhat smaller one, two-thirds the 
size of man, that grins and gibbers and understands speech, that could 
speak if he wished.” 

“We conjure them, we conjure them. “ 

“Conjure the third of the large monkeys that is dog-faced and purple 
of arse.” 

“We conjure it, we conjure it, but it belongs in a comic strip.” 

“Conjure the gentle monster, the okapi that is made out of pieces of 
the antelope and camel and contingent giraffe, and which likewise wears 
a clown suit.” 

“We conjure it, we conjure it.” 

“Conjure the multitudinous antelopes, koodoo, nyala, hartebeest, 
oryx, bongo, klipspringer, gemsbok, all so out of keeping with a warm 

country, all such grotesque takeoffs of the little alpine antelope.” 

“We conjure them, we conjure them.” 

“Conjure the buffalo that is greater thin all other buffalo or cattle, that 
has horns as wide as a shield. Conjure the quagga. I forget its pretended 
appearance, but it cannot be ordinary.” 

“We conjure it, we conjure it.” 

“We come to the top of it all! Conjure the most anthropomorphic 
group in the entire unconsciousness: men who are men indeed, but who 
are as black as midnight in a hazel grove, who are long of angie and 
metatarsals and lower limb so they call run and leap uncommonly, who 
have crumpled hair and are massive of feature. Conjure another variety 
that are only half as tall as them. Conjure a third sort that are short of 
stature and prodigious of hips.” 

“We conjure them, we conjure them,” they all chanted. “They are the 
caricatures from the beginning.” 

“But can all these animals appear at one time?” Boyle protested. “Even 
on a contingent continent dredged out of the folk unconsciousness there 
would be varieties of climates and land-form. All would not be together.” 

“This is rhapsody, this is panorama, this is Africa,” said Lima Boyle. 

And they were all totally in the middle of Africa, on a slippery bole of a 
broken tree that teetered over a green swamp. And the animals were 
them in the rain forests and the savannas, on the shore, and in the green 
swamp. And a man black as midnight was there, his face broken with 

Justina Shackleton screamed horribly as the crocodile sliced her in 
two. She still screamed from inside the gulping beast as one might scream 
under water. 


The Ecumene, the world island, has the shape of an egg no degrees 
from East to West and 45 degrees from North to South. It is scored into 
three parts, Eurpoa, Asia, and Libya. It is scored by the incurring seas, 
Eurpoa from Asia by the Pontus and the Hurcanum Seas, Asia from Libya 
by the Persian Sea, and Libya from Eurpoa by the Tyrrhenian and Ionian 
Seas (the Mediterranean Complex). The most westerly part of the world is 
Curuna in Iberia or Spain, the most northerly is Kharkovsk in Scythia or 
Russia, the most easterly is Sining in Han or China, the most southerly is 
the Cinnamon Coast of Libya. 

The first chart of the world, that of Eratothenes, was thus, and it was 
perfect. Whether he had it from primitive revelation or from early 
exploration, it was correct in minor detail. Though Britain seems to have 
been charted as an Island rather than a Peninisula, this may be an error 
or an early copyist. A Britain unjoined to the Main would shrivel, as a 
branch hewed from a tree will shrivel and die. There are no viable islands. 

All islands fade and drift and disappear. Sometimes they reappear 
briefly, but there is no life in them. The juice of life flows through the 
continent only. It is the ONE LAND, THE LIVING AND HOLY LAND, 

Thus, Ireland is seen sometimes, or Hy-Brasil, or the American rock- 
lands: but they are not always seen in the same places, and they do not 
always have the same appearance. They have neither life nor reality. 

The secret geographies and histories of the American Society and the 
Atlantis Society and such are esoteric lodge-group things, symbolic and 
murky, forms for the initiated; they contain analogs and not realities. 

The ecumene must grow, of coruse, but it grows inwardly in intensity 
and meaning; its form cannot change. The form is determined from the 
beginning, just as the form of a man is determined before he is born. A 
man does not grow by adding more limbs or heads. That the ecumen 
should grow appendages would be as grotesque as a man growing a tail. 

— World As Perfection 
Diogenes Pontifex 

August Shackleton guffawed nervously when his wife was sliced in two 
and the half of her swallowed by the crocodile; and his hand that held the 
Roman Bomb trembled. Indeed, there was something unnerving about 
the whole thing. That cutoff screaming of Justina Shackleton had 
something shocking and unpleasant about it. 

Justina had once gone hysterical at a seance when the ghosts and 
appearances had been more or less conventional, but August was never 
sure just how sincere her hysteria was. Another time she had disappeared 
for several days from a seance, from a locked room, and had come back 
with a roguish story about being in spirit land. She was a high-strung 
clown with a sense of the outrageous, and this present business of being 
chopped in two was typical of her creations. 

And suddenly they were all explosively creative, each one’s subjective 
patterns intermingling with those of the other to produce howling chaos. 

What had been the ship the True Believer, what had been the slippery 
overhanging bole, had now come dangerously down into the swamp. 
They all wanted a closer look. 

There was screaming and trumpeting, there was color and surge and 
threshing mass. The crocodile bellowed as a bull might, not at all as 
Shackleton believed that a croc should sound. But someone there had the 
idea that a crocodile should bellow like that, and that someone had 
imposed his ideate on the others. Unhorselike creatures whinnied, and 
vivid animals sobbed and gurgled. 

“Go back up, go back up!” the black man was bleating. “You will all be 
killed here.” 

His face was a true Mummers-Night blackman mask. One of the party 
was imagining strongly in that stereotyped form. But the incongruous 
thing about the black man was that he was gibbering at them in French, 
in bad French as though it were his weak second language. Which one of 
them was linguist enough to invent such a black French on the edge of the 
moment? Luna Boyle, of course. But why had she put grotesque French 
into the month of a black man in contingent Africa? 

“Go back up, go back up,” the black man cried, He had an old rifle 
from the last century and he was shooting the crocodile with it. 

“Hey, he’s shooting Justina too,” Mintgreen giggled too gaily. “Half of 
her is in the dragon thing. Oh, she will have some stories to tell about 
this! She has the best imagination of all of us.” 

“Let’s get her out and together again,” Linter suggested. They were all 
shouting too loudly and too nervously. “She’s missing the best part of it.” 

“Here, here, black man,” Shackleton called. “Carl you get the half of 
my wife out of that thing and put her together again?” 

“Oh, white people, white people, this is real and this is death,” the 
black man moaned in agony, “this is a closed wild area. You should not be 
here at all. However you have come here, whatever is the real form of that 
balk or tree on which you stand so dangerously, be gone from here if you 
can do it. You do not know how to live in this. White people, be gone! It is 
your lives.!” 

“One can command a fantasy,” said August Shackleton. “Black man 
fantasy, I command that you get the half of my wife out of that dying 
creature and put her together again.” 

“Oh, white people on dope, I cannot do this,” the black man moaned. 

“She is dead. And you joke and drink Green Bird and Bomib, and hoot 
like demented children in a dream.” 

“We are in a dream, and you are of the dream,” Shackleton said easily. 
“And we may experiment with our dream creatures. That is our purpose 
here. Here, catch a bottle of Roman Bomb!” and he threw it to the black 
man, who caught it. 

“Drink it,” said Shackleton. “I am interested in seeing whether a 
dream figure can make incursion on physical substance.” 

“Oh, white people on dope,” the black man moaned. “The watering 
place is no place for you to be. You excite the animals, and then they kill. 
When they are excited it is danger to me also who usually move among 
them easily. I have to kill the crocodile who is my friend. I do not want to 
kill others. I do not want more of you to be killed.” 

The black man was booted and jacketed quite in the manner of a 
hunting store outing, this possibly by the care at imagining of Boyle who 
loved hunting rig. The black Mummers-Night mask was contorted in 
agony and apprehension, but the black man did drink the Roman Bomb 
nervously the while he begged them to be gone from that place. 

“You will notice that the skull form is quite human and the bearing 
completely erect,” Linter said. “You will notice also that he is less hairy 
than we are and is thick of lip, while the great ape is more hairy and thin 
of lip. I had imagined them to be the same creature differently 

“No, you imagine them to be as they appear,” Shackleton said. “It is 
Your imagining of these two creatures that we are watching.” 

“But notice the configuration of the tempora and the mandible shape,” 
Linter protested, “— not what I expected. “ 

“You are the only one of us who knows about tempora and mandible 
shape,” said Shackleton. “I tell you that it is your own imagery. He is 
structured by you, given the conventional Mummers-Night black-mask 
by all of us, clothed by Boyle, and speeches by Luna Boyle. His production 
is our joint effort. Watch it, everyone! It becomes dangerous now, even 
explosive! Man, I’m getting as hysterical as my wife! The dream is so vivid 
that it has its hooks in me. Ah, it’s a great investigative experience, but I 
doubt if I’ll want to return to this particular experience again. Green 
perdition! But it does become dangerous! Watch out, everyone!” 

Ah, it had become wild: a hooting and screaming and bawling wild 

Africa bedlam, a green and taw